As an avid bird lover, I am truly fortunate to have many different species of birds lingering around my balcony and the tree in front of it during the day.
Some of the species that come by to greet me daily are the common sparrow, mynah, Asian glossy starling, black-naped oriole, yellow-vented bulbul, magpie-robin…and sunbird.
It is the sunbird which will be the reason for our article today.
Since they moved about and consume nectar like hummingbirds, I decided to make a feeder based on existing hummingbird feeder designs, which is basically an inverted bottle on a flat container with holes which the birds could drink from.
Materials and Tools
To build the hummingbird feeder, I used an empty Coke bottle which has been washed thoroughly. Another flat plastic container was used as the base where the water will gather for the bird to drink from.
- The materials needed for this little project are:
A small bottle. An empty Coke or mineral water plastic bottle of about 250 ml works best. Do not use a big bottle as one, it will be heavier when filled, and two, you may need to discard the water before it gets stale if left too long, especially if you don’t have a lot of hummingbirds or sunbirds in your area.
- A flat round container
- Red duct tape or masking tape
- Transparent tape or Hot Glue Gun (optional)
- Short length of chain or rope
- Zip ties
The tools you will need are:
- 3mm drill bit for wood or metal
- 6mm or larger drill bit for wood or metal
- 25mm hole saw (or diameter to match bottle mouth diameter)
- High-speed rotary tool
- Rat tail file
- Retractable blade
N.B. Do not confine yourself strictly to the materials above. Read the steps below once or twice and if can think of better or more suitable materials than the ones I have suggested, by all means, use those.
Make a Hummingbird Feeder
If you’re ready assembling all the required materials and tools, let’s begin!
B. Making the Cuts
C. The Flower Part
D. Hanging and Completing the Feeder
Preparing the Nectar Solution
To prepare the nectar solution for the hummingbird and sunbird:
- Add 3 to 4 parts drinking water to 1 part fine white granulated sugar. It would help to add a small portion of warm water first to help dissolve the sugar.
IMPORTANT: You should only use white sugar as it is similar to the nectar these birds normally consume, and is also suitable for their metabolism. Do not use brown sugar, molasses, honey or any other sugar as some of those may be toxic to these birds, as advised by The Hummingbird Society based in Arizona..
- Stir to ensure that all the sugar granules are thoroughly dissolved.
N.B. Adding red food colouring to the solution is a popular suggestion by some, but this is not necessary and not preferable.
- Remove the container from the feeder assembly, leaving the container lid and cap on the bottle.
- Pour the prepared nectar solution into the bottle. If the water is warm, wait for it to cool before pouring it into the bottle.
- With the bottle upright, turn the round plastic container upside down and press it firmly against the lid.
- Turn the feeder bottle upside down and observe as the nectar solution fills up the round container.
- The nectar solution should fill to the top of the round container it touches or almost touches the container lid. This is so that the solution will be within the reach of the bird’s proboscis or tongue when it is feeding. This is what the 4 holes on the bottle cap were made for.
Hanging the Hummingbird Feeder
The hummingbird was hung at my balcony without any visit by the sunbirds for a few days. This was because there is a flower plant on my neighbour’s balcony where the sunbirds have been regularly feeding from, and they were probably unaware of this new source of nectar. I have had to change the nectar solution a couple of times to keep it fresh.
On the third day, a sunbird came by and discovered my feeder and started sipping from it. Over the next few days, another two came by and sipped from the feeder.
Today, my feeder has become a regular watering hole for these sunbirds, to the point where one particular sunbird has recognised my role in filling up this feeder and has decided that I was a friendly party. This particular sunbird has not found the courage to come in contact with me, but has allowed me to approach it close enough (closer than the other sunbirds around at least) without taking off.
This alone, I have found to be truly rewarding!