Sunday, June 16, 2024

How To Remove Mold From Hummingbird Feeder

How To Clean A Hummingbird Feeder In 5 Easy Steps

How To Clean Your Hummingbird Feeders – It’s Important!

Hummingbirds are colorful and exciting to see in your garden, and these tiny creatures are also important pollinators. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “Pollination is not just fascinating natural history. It is an essential ecological survival function.”Putting out a hummingbird feeder is an excellent way to attract and support these winged wonders, as long as you commit to properly caring for the equipment. “The rule of thumb is to discard the nectar, clean, and refill the feeder every two days. Otherwise, there’s a risk of poisoning the birds,” warns Ronnie Collins, a botanist and founder of the blog Electro Garden Tools.

Daniel McCurry, owner of Father Nature Landscapes in Birmingham, Alabama, says you should discard the nectar and clean the feeder anytime the liquid in it appears cloudy or milky. “The higher the humidity, the faster goes bad for them,” McCurry explains. “When it becomes milky, it makes it taste funky for the birds, and they’ll move on to someone else’s garden.” Plus, “the mold that can grow in the hummingbird’s water can cause them to get a fungal infection,” he adds. However, you can keep the birds safe and well-fed by following these simple steps for cleaning your hummingbird feeder.

How Often Should You Clean Hummingbird Feeders

Clean you Feeder Every Two to Three Days

Placing your feeder in the open air in the Spring can make a big difference to how well you care for your local birds. When warmer weather arrives, you must place your feeder in the garden or hang it from a balcony or window to make sure you give your local hummingbirds the chance to enjoy the nectar or sugar solution you are using.

The problem you will face with your feeder is the sugary contents are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold when placed in a hot and humid environment. As the summer months appear and extend, you will find you are looking at cloudy waters that could be unhealthy for your hummingbirds to feed on.

In general, you should be looking to clean your feeder and replace the contents every two to three days with a complete rinse of the inside of the feeder completed every 48 to 72 hours. This means more than just tipping away from the contents of the bottle and should include a complete breakdown of the apparatus to make sure you are removing all the traces of the old nectar or sugar food solution from all the nooks and crannies as quickly as possible.

How Often Clean Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird feeders need to be clean frequently. If you see the sweet water become cloudy or moldy, clean it as soon as possible, but the ideal time is to clean the feeder every 2 to 7 Days. It depends on the weather condition and temperature. Follow the below chart to know when you need to clean your feeder according to the temperature of your area.


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Is Black Mold Harmful To Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Feeder Black Mold

Candida, the most common black mold found on hummingbird feeders, will infect a hummingbirds tongue causing the tongue to swell, over a period of days, to the point of not allowing the hummingbird to consume nectar. The end result is the hummingbird starves to death.

Candida found on hummingbird feeders is the result of nectar fermentation or nectar contamination from an infected hummingbird feeding at that feeder.

Once a hummingbird feeder is infected it will require aggressive cleaning of all components of the hummingbird feeder.

It is important to purchase hummingbird feeders that completely disassembles for cleaning.

Recommended Reading: How Does Black Mold Hurt You

Cons Of Hummingbird Feeders

Poor design can mean the hummingbird feeder leaks, causing a sticky mess. Feeder styles range from artsy glass to utilitarian plastic. Basin shapes with feeder ports on top prevent messy spills. Yellow attracts bees, but they dont respond to hummer-preferred red. Choose an easy-to-disassemble feeder with openings that accommodate a bottle brush or old toothbrush. Use vinegar for stubborn stains, according to feeder label directions, then rinse thoroughly. The sugary water in feeders can attract racoons or other unwanted wildlife. The Audubon Society reports that nearly 1 billion birds die from window collisions in the U.S. every year. If you want to take photos, use a feeder with a perch so the birds can rest while they drink. Feeders dont disrupt hummingbird migration because insects, not nectar, are their main source of nutrition. The occasional straggler might stop by for a sugar supplement.

  • Set the feeder in the solution making sure that it is completely submerged.
  • Poor design can mean the hummingbird feeder leaks, causing a sticky mess.

White vinegar is an acceptable substitute for chlorine bleach.

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  • White vinegar is an acceptable substitute for chlorine bleach.

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Feeding Reservoirs That Have A Tiny Opening

Look at the feeder above. Specifically, look at the tiny opening of the feeding reservoir! Just think how hard it would be to fit a brush inside to clean the inside surface properly. Its sort of like trying to clean the inside of a soda bottle, which would be impossible. Even though these feeders look beautiful, you are asking for bacteria and mold problems.

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Soak Every Piece And Part

Fill up your bucket or sink with whichever cleaning solution you choose, which can be either a mixture of vinegar, bleach, or warm and soapy water.

Place all the pieces and parts from the hummingbird feeder you just disassembled and put into the sink or bucket. Let everything soak in there for at least 10 minutes. This step helps to disinfect bacteria and loosen any sugar that has crystallized on the feeder.

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Step 1: Mix one part vinegar and two parts water Step 2: Detach the removable parts of the hummingbird feederA. Remove the baseB. If its hard to remove the base then soak the base in hot water for 15 minutes to soften the hardened nectarC. Detach these one-by-one if your feeder has them ant moats, insect guards, perchesStep 3: Drain the nectar from the reservoir to the feeding port and base down your sink. Beware of any stuck sugar or any other residues that could spoil the next nectar you put inStep 4: Check and see if something is clogging the feeding portsOptional: You can soak the feeder and all the removable parts in your vinegar solution for an hour for extra sanitation. Step 5: Brush the feeder, removable parts, and the feeding port using adequate tools. You can use a combination of the straw brush, the long bottle brush, and the vinegar solution.

Some hummingbird feeder plastic will melt under very hot water so check with your vendor before using hot water to clean it. Here are some alternatives if your feeder cant handle hot water.

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How To Treat Mold In A Hummingbird Feeder

Treating mold in a feeder requires the use of bleach, vinegar, or peroxide. Experienced birdies dont recommend dish soap in removing black mold.

Below is a guide for treating mold in a hummingbird feeder:

Step 1: Dilute Bleach

If you want to use bleach, dilute it first. Undiluted bleach can be extremely dangerous. Safe use of bleach also requires you to wear protective gloves and ensure youre in a well-ventilated setting.

Bleach is the most effective in getting rid of black mold in feeders since it requires a shorter period to take effect. Peroxide and vinegar, on the other hand, are weaker and therefore need more time.

You can dilute bleach by mixing a gallon of water with a ¼ cup of bleach. This is easier to do if youre using a large bucket rather than a sink.

Step 2: Soak hummingbird feeder in the bleach solution

Then, soak your feeder in the diluted bleach solution for 1 hour. Soaking is the most effective way of removing spores and mold that is potentially harmful to hummingbirds. If you have disassembled your hummingbird feeder for cleaning, soak all the parts and give them 1 hour to sit in the diluted bleach solution.

Step 3: Clean feeder with a bottle brush

Then, remove the parts you soaked in the solution and proceed to clean. Remember to keep your gloves on. Use a bottle brush to scrub off all traces of black mold.

Step 4: Rinse, Dry, Refill

Why Is A Clean Hummingbird Feeder Important

Keeping your feeders clean and hygienic is a vital aspect of feeding the birds. Not only are hummers more likely to imbibe from a consistently clean feeding station, but its healthier for them as well. Most hummingbirds would rather go without food than drink nectar that has gone bad, so its important to keep your feeder clean if you want to continue enjoying their visits.

If this is your first time attempting to clean a hummingbird feeder, dont worry! Just follow these six simple steps to maintain a fresh, sparkling clean feeder.

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How Easy Is It To Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder

There are dozens and dozens of different hummingbird feeders available for purchase. Some of them are much easier to clean than others. Typically, the simpler your feeder is to clean, the more likely you are to complete the job!

To see my favorite hummingbird feeders, then try reading this article: The 8 Best Hummingbird Feeders

Here are a few things to consider:

Dish Feeders Are Easiest To Clean

How to Clean Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird feeders that resemble a dish or flying saucer are the simplest to wash. These products resemble a small bowl with a cap put on the top, which is where the feeding ports are located.

The reason is that the top will easily pop off, and then all the nectar is located in the dish. All the surface areas are easy to reach and disinfect.

The other type of hummingbird feeder resembles a bottle. The nectar is located in a reservoir ABOVE the feeding ports. As the nectar is drunk, more liquid comes down.

With a bottle feeder, there are typically more parts to take apart and clean. Also, you have to make sure that you have a brush that can reach up inside the bottle.

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Importance Of Cleaning A Hummingbird Feeder

One of the reasons why cleaning a hummingbird feeder is absolutely necessary is nectar is likely to grow mold if a feeder doesnt get properly cleaned. And, hummingbirds being tiny, fragile creatures with small organs, even a minimum amount of contamination in what they ingest can lead to sickness or death.

That is what most birders are unaware of. Most hummingbirds are usually found dead with their tongues hanging out. Their deaths are mostly a result of them consuming fermented nectar. Black mold that develops on fermented nectar is one of the reasons hummingbirds get fungal infections. As a result of these infections, the tongues of hummingbirds can swell to such a point that feeding becomes impossible, and they die of starvation.

If you dont want your love for these birds to be their death, you cannot overlook cleaning their feeders at least every two or three days. Otherwise, your kindness may be their death.

Also, as we mentioned before, hummingbirds prefer feeding on fresh nectar. They will avoid a feeder if they notice the nectar is spoilt. So, if you want your lovely little guests to keep coming, ensure theyll find a clean feeder.

A dirty feeder can also be quite an eyesore and smelly. You dont want to keep a smelly feeder on your porch because it will be a turnoff for your visiting hummers and yourself. Plus, its likely to attract unwanted insects such as flies and ants.

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Brushtech Hummingbird Feeder Cleaning Kit at

If youre like me, youve got a collection of toothbrushes, baby bottle brushes, and even well-washed mascara brushes sitting next to your kitchen sink for cleaning hummingbird feeders. The problem is that tools made for other cleaning jobs dont always work as well for such a specialized task, so its nice to see a set of brushes made especially to reach the nooks and crannies of typical hummingbird feeders. The big brush in this set could even get into the enclosed bases of some of the cheapo feeder models to remove crud you cant see.

Of all the nasties that grow on hummingbird feeders, the nastiest and hardest to control is black mold. A 15-minute soak in a dilute solution of chlorine bleach* is very effective at killing black mold on non-porous surfaces, but an hour-long soak in white vinegar is a less toxic alternative . In either case, follow up the soak with a thorough brushing to remove dead mold colonies and other organic growths, then rinse well and let the feeder dry before refilling to allow the odor to dissipate.

This advice applies mainly to bottle-style feeders. Saucer feeders such as the Aspects Hummzingers can be cleaned by hand using dish detergent and the small port brush in the kit above or washed on the top rack of the dishwasher. If any stubborn debris accumulates in the built-in ant moat, the little ball-shaped brush in the Brushtech set will swish it away.

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How Often Should I Clean A Hummingbird Feeder

A feeder should be cleaned out every two to three days in the summer since the nectar can spoil faster in higher temperatures. In mild weather, you can change the nectar and clean out the feeder once every five days or so. Since youll have more hummingbirds in your yard during the summer months, youll find that you need to refill your feeders fairly often. During this time, you can inspect the feeder and if it looks fairly clean, you can simply rinse it out and allow it to dry thoroughly before you refill it with more nectar.

If youre not sure whether or not a feeder should be cleaned out, look for signs of spoilage, such as cloudy looking nectar. If youre having a hard time remembering to clean out your feeders, be sure to keep track of this task by writing it on your calendar. These simple tips on bird feeder maintenance will be very important to the health of your local birds.

How Do You Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Molding

How to Clean a Perky-Pet® Hummingbird Feeder
  • Keep hummingbird feeders in the shade.
  • Clean your hummingbird feeders frequently.
  • Use 1 to 4 sugar to water ratio for homemade nectar.
  • Purchase feeders that have a wider mouth and completely disassemble for easy cleaning.
  • Provide adequate number of feeders for the number of hummingbirds visiting the feeders.

Keeping hummingbird feeders in the shade prevents the spread of diseases and slows the fermentation process.

Feeder maintenance is imperative for sustaining healthy hummingbirds and their environments. Conditions are easier for bacteria to grow in hot direct sunlight. The increased fermentation process will become obvious and result in showing significant signs of black mold growth on your feeders.

Plastic feeders can cause homemade nectar to ferment more quickly than glass feeders during the warm weather season.

Frequently clean your hummingbird feeders. Feeders in hot weather and direct sunlight may require daily cleaning while feeders in moderate temperatures and placed in the shade may need cleaning only every 3 to 5 days.

This cleaning schedule should eliminate black mold and mildew from infecting in your feeder.

Switch out the homemade hummingbird nectar daily for temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving sugar water in a hummingbird feeder out in the heat can cause the homemade nectar to ferment, producing a perfect environment for spreading diseases and creating unwanted problems.

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Sterilize Your Feeders Every Time

As we have discussed, the reason that nectar eventually spoils is that bacteria causes fermentation. The dirtier your feeder, the quicker that sugar water typically goes bad.

If you get into the habit of conducting a thorough cleaning EVERY time that you change nectar, you ensure that all the bacteria and mold that you cant see yet is destroyed.

The cleaner that you keep your feeders, the longer the nectar will last. At least you are starting as clean as possible, which should help prolong the inevitability of spoilage.

Step : Disassemble The Feeder

Most feeders get manufactured in such a way that they are easy to disassemble. If you can disassemble your feeder, it would make cleaning much easier and more effective.

If you are unsure about the procedure required to take apart your hummingbird feeder, consult the guidelines to avoid ruining it. Most feeders come with them and, if yours didnt, simply type your feeders name followed by disassemble on a search engine, and you are likely to find the necessary instructions.

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What Are The Most Common Things Infecting Hummingbird Feeders

  • The four most common diseases found on hummingbird feeders that are harmful to hummingbirds are:
  • Candidiasis
  • Avian poxvirus
  • Aspergillosis
  • Salmonellosis

Transference of diseases can be linked to improper, infrequently cleaned or overcrowded hummingbird feeders. These toxic environments can ultimately lead to a hummingbirds death.

This male Annas hummingbird has a deformed, diseased or damaged beak. He may have been born with a deformity. He may have caught a disease from an unkept hummingbird feeder or damaged his beak while defending his territory.

It is extremely disheartening to see these outcomes. As much as he is a survivor, I wonder if he now is a contributor to spreading pathogens to other hummingbirds at the feeders.

As a hummingbird enthusiast, I want to protect my flying acrobatic friends as much as I can and reduce any more obstacles in their path to safely live a long and healthy life.

See my article: Hummingbird Diseases: From Pathogens to Prevention

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