Got hummingbirds? Got Wine? The two go together like wine and cheese. Sit on your porch, sip your wine while the Hummers sip from an old wine bottle.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Tools: You'll need heavy wire cutters, pliers, a sanding or grinding wheel, and a drill.
Materials: You'll need an old wine bottle, the more colorful the better, Brightly colored is best, preferably red, a cork, preferably plastic (easier to work) a length of copper tube (size isn't critical - about 1/4" to 1/8") and a length of copper wire (#6 is sturdy, and common, and a size that is often left over after house wiring jobs.)
Step 2: Prepare the Tubing
Snip off the tubing, about 5 or 6 inches. Length is not critical.
Bend it into an L shape without crimping it shut.
Use the pliers to make sure one end is completely open, and the other is formed into an almost-closed mouth as shown. You may have to adjust this gap to keep the liquid from running out.
Step 3: Drill a Hole in the Cork and Shape It
You want the cork to slide easily in and out of the bottle, while making a tight seal. Chamfer the end of the cork as shown with a sander or a grinding wheel. You could whittle it with a pocket knife, but the edge must be smooth and round enough to make a tight air seal in the bottle. Drill a hole in the cork just big enough to force the tubing inside, to 1/2" inside the bottle.
Lubricate the tubing with a food-safe substance such as cooking oil to help it seal. Do not use glues or anything that could be toxic - Hummers are very sensitive and you don't know if a glue or paint might be toxic to them. You could also melt a little wax around the tubing.
Step 4: Assemble and Test for Leaks - Add a Flower
Once you have assembled the cork and tube into a wine bottle, fill the wine bottle partway with water. Turn it upside down. Water will leak out the tubing until a slight vacuum, and the surface tension at the tubing lip, prevent any more from running out. Inspect carefully for tiny bubbles. If there are bubbles rising, either the cork or the tubing is not making a tight seal and your hummingbird food will all leak out. I used some cooking spray on the tubing until it made an airtight seal. If you can't stop it from dribbling, use the pliers to close the mouth of the tubing so it is just barely open, maybe 1/16".
Bend about 2 feet of #6 copper wire until it cradles the wine bottle upside down, and add a hook on the end for hanging.
Hummers like bright colors. Add a brightly colored "flower" to the tube - it could be a plastic bead, a painted jar lid, etc. I found a purple medicine jar lid and hot-glued it near the end of the tube, after punching a hole.
Step 5: Now Make Some Hummingbird Food!
Make Hummingbird by bringing 4 parts water water and bring to a boil to kill any bacteria or mold present. Add 1 part sugar (1 cup per 4 cups water, etc. ) Cool Extra sugar water may be stored in a refrigerator. Do not add anything else - Hummers don't need vitamins or minerals or other nutrients. In addition to flower nectar, they will eat an occasional bug. Sugar water gives them enough energy to find the next bug!
Don't fill up the wine bottle - that is too much and it will spoil before it is used. Add about 1 cup to the wine bottle feeder at a time. Fill it every 2-3 days, depending on how hot it is. Wash out the wine bottle between fillings to reduce bacteria and mold. If it is colorful, especially red, the Hummers will find it.