Friday, July 6, 2018

The Best Way To Keep Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeders: DIY Ant Cups

Guess what ants love more than anything else in the world?
Sugar water.
What's in that hummingbird feeder?
Sugar water.
See the problem?

The best way to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders is with ant cups.
The easiest solution is to go buy one at the store.
On the other hand, they often cost upwards of $8 which seems excessive and if, like me, the closest store with hummingbird feeder supplies is half an hour from your house, you may feel motivated to find a DIY solution.

Instructions for making DIY Ant Cups for Hummingbird Feeders.

Find something to use for the cup. I made two of them, one with the cup that came on the laundry detergent, and the other with the cap from a can of hairspray.

Find something to use for the hook. I just happen to live on land that has a lot of fallen chain-link fence so I used fence ties because they're laying around all over the place. A length of metal coat hanger would work too. Look for something metal that is strong enough to support the weight of the feeder but that can also be bent.

Before bending hooks into the metal, heat one end until it is hot enough to melt through the plastic cup. Poke the metal through the lid and allow to cool.

At this point, the cup will most likely not be water tight. Seal the hole around the hook with a strong water proof glue. I used Gorilla Glue which takes 12 hours to dry.

Once dry and secure, add water and dish soap to the cup. This way, the birds won't try to drink the water but the ants can't swim across the proverbial moat. Another option would be to coat the inside bottom of the cup in petroleum jelly.

Generally, once the ants figure out that the path to sugar is blocked, they will stop trying to access the feeder - at least for awhile. Even if the ants seem to have gone away, I recommend using the cups all the time because it only takes one renegade ant to "rediscover" the feeder and send out the bat signal to trigger a new feeding frenzy.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

How To Make Hummingbird Food

There's no need to buy premixed "Hummingbird Nectar" from the store. It's really expensive and not necessary, especially if you want to maintain several feeders.

The best way to procure hummingbird food is to make it at home. It's easy and cheap and works just as well as any store bought concoction.

Recipe for hummingbird food:

1 part sugar to 4 parts water.
Use only plain water and white granulated sugar and NOTHING ELSE.
For example, to make one cup of hummingbird food mix 1/4 cup sugar with one cup water. Multiply the ratios as needed.

In this order:
Boil the water.
Slowly stir in the sugar until it is dissolved, allow the water to return to a boil.
As soon as the water resumes boiling, turn off the heat and allow the hummingbird food to cool.
DO NOT pour boiling hot hummingbird food into your feeders (um... duh)
Once the mixture has returned to room temperature, it is now safe to put out for the birds.
I like to make big batches and store the excess in a glass container in the refrigerator.

Here are a few other important tips for success and happy hummingbirds.

#1. When buying a feeder, be sure to select one with a base that comes apart so that it can be thoroughly cleaned.

#2. If possible, hang feeders where they be shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

#3. Only fill feeders with as much food as your bird population will consume in a few days. Once it goes outside, hummingbird food has a short shelf life and the bacteria left from the hummingbird beaks will start to grow in that sugar water like mold in a pitre dish. Feeders should be emptied, cleaned and refilled at least once a week, twice a week if the weather is particularly hot.

#4. Ants, they're a problem. If (when) the ants start getting out of hand, use ant cups to prevent them from reaching the feeders.

#5. As previously mentioned, only use white granulated sugar. Don't add anything else like brown sugar, honey or syrup, and certainly don't use any sugar substitutes like Equal, Sweet-N-Low, or Splenda. Use plain white granulated sugar, that's it, nothing else. We want to help the birds, not harm them.

#6. There is no need to add red coloring to the mix. The feeders are red and that is sufficient to attract the birds.

#7. Hummingbirds are warm weather, migratory birds. In other words, they don't like to be cold! Expect hummers to show up in your area shortly after the last freeze and to disappear shortly before the first freeze.

#8. The supposition that feeding hummingbirds disrupts their migration patterns is incorrect. A Hummingbird's migration is triggered by the duration of daylight, not by a lack of food. When the days get too short, the birds know it's time to boogie on. Some hummingbirds migrate as far as 2000 miles so it is a good idea to leave keep your feeders out for just a little while after the migration has begun as they can provide food for other hummingbirds that are headed south. Likewise, put the feeders out just a little early in the season so that the new arrivals will find your feeders first and enjoy a much needed meal upon arrival.

#9. Enjoy the birds!

Notice how the feeder is hanging from an ant cup. This prevents the ants from being able to reach the sugar water!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

4th Of July Tom Collins: The Breaking Bad Edition

If you must drink on the 4th Of July (and I must!) I say drink at home. It's far less expensive and keeps you out of those pesky DWI checkpoints.

I call this one the Breaking Bad Collins.

Here's the recipe:
In a glass of ice, mix the following in this order.

1.5oz shot of gin
I don't measure the other stuff, so flavor to taste.
On top of the gin add a splash (or 3) of lime juice.
Top off with Sparkling ICE Blue Raspberry - it comes in a skinny bottle and most grocery stores carry it with the flavored sparkling water.
Stir. Don't add anything else until you stir!
Garnish with half a slice of lime - be sure to rub the lime all over the mouth of the glass, leaving behind as much pulp as possible.
Add two maraschino cherries.
Last step - pour in a small amount of cherry juice from the jar. Make sure that the drink has already been stirred because if you stir it after the cherry juice goes in, it defeats the purpose. The cherry juice will sink to the bottom, creating a lovely layered effect.

Before you get started, make sure there is sufficient hot dogs, chips & dip, watermelon, and sparklers to last through the evening. Enjoy three or four of these delectable drinks and call it a night!

Happy 4th!

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