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Each year The Mill Restaurant plays host to hundreds of thousands of guests, most of these guests are hummingbirds.

Needless to say the birds have become quite an attraction, and have been the subject of many questions posed by our non-feathered patrons.  

 

This page is dedicated to all those customers who have expressed a genuine interest, and I will attempt to do my best to answer all the questions that I have been challenged with.

 

Now I’m no birdoligist, I’m a waitress, and this whole hummingbird phenomenon began a few years ago when a local resident, gifted me two hummingbird feeders. My first and most typical experience included having a bird bully chase off all the other birds.  As I see it as a waitress, it’s my duty to make sure all customers are treated as fairly as possible, and that includes birds.

 

I went out and bought a few more feeders and strategically placed them so that the bully could not see them all at the same time.  I also moved feeders from one day to the next, so that the bully could not establish any territorial rights.  My plan worked and other birds were gathering in large enough quantities that the bullies finally gave up. I had no idea that the bird population would continue to grow from that day forward.

 

 I eventually turned in my small feeders for more practical ones. The feeders  I use now each hold 32 ounces of fluid and the bottoms come apart into two pieces for easy cleaning. The feeders also have 8 feeding holes with perches for the birds, and are the most bee proof that I have found.

 

I have purchased these at Wild Birds Unlimited, it is a chain and I have found that the Prescott outlet has the best prices, about $9.95 each

 

 

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Now if I do get bees hanging around the feeders, I coat the flat surface, which has the feeder holes in it, with some type of vegetable oil, this will not hurt the birds, but it will definitely keep the bees away.  The vegetable oil will eventually become dry and gummy and hard to clean. I have found that normal tap water is not hot enough to do the job no matter how much soap I use, but using water from my coffee machine or heating water on the stove solves the problem, but I need to wear gloves to keep from burning my hands. Hot water also helps to sterilize the feeders. I usually clean my feeders at least once a week, and I don’t mix new and old food together. New food only goes into sterilized feeders, and old food is combined into one feeder and if not used in a day or to is thrown out.

 

The food mixture is 100% sugar water, the coloring process I discovered by accident.

 

I make large batches of humming bird food, during the height of the season I refill the 10, 32 ounce feeders twice a day.  On one occasion I poured 3 beer pitchers full of sugar into a large pot then added water, so I could bring the mixture to a boil, I did this without stirring, as a result I accidentally scorched some of the sugar piled up at the bottom of the pan and it colored the whole batch brown.  Now I sprinkle sugar on the bottom of the pan and wait till I get a small puddle to turn golden color, if an area starts to get to hot or wants to turn black, I sprinkle more sugar on that spot to cool it down.  Once I have about a teaspoon of goldenish or amber colored liquid in the bottom of the pan, I add the rest of my sugar and water and bring to a boil.  I use the ratio of one-cup sugar to three cups water. Then I give them a pinch more sugar just because I know they like it that way. Kinda like how we cook here at The Mill.

 

A teaspoon of color will easily darken a batch, that's consists of 8 cups of sugar and 24 cups water.

 

just play around with the process and you'll see how easily it is to color the water.  It's healthier for the birds than food coloring and sugar is cheaper than hummingbird food in the pet stores.

 

Hummingbirds eat small gnats and mosquitoes, so they make our life her at The Mill much more pleasant

 

Hope this covers everything, if not drop me an e-mail

Happy Bird Watching,    Sam

 

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