Creating the right atmosphere for hummingbirds is very important. Merely hanging a feeder will not be enough to attract the birds. They also require a water source, shelter, and other food sources. Your feeder provides only additional nourishment. Planting flowers that provide nectar will also help attract birds to your feeder.
Hummingbird feeders can be purchased at relatively inexpensive cost. Most feeders consist of a container for the food (a sugar & water mixture), and perches for the birds to stand on while drinking. Using a small feeder, or several small feeders, will work best to attract new hummingbirds to your area.
Food for hummingbird feeders consists of a sugar-water mixture. Use 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. For example, add 4 cups of water to a large pot. Add 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and boil 1 to 2 minutes. Let the mixture cool and add it to the hummingbird feeder.
Adding red food coloring to the sugar water is not necessary. Most hummingbird feeders have a red coloring on them somewhere, or you can also attach a red ribbon to the feeder. There haven't been any research studying the affects of food coloring on hummingbirds, so its affects are not known. Therefore, it's a good idea (to be on the safe side) to not use food coloring, as it isn't necessary to attract hummingbirds.
Store any extra food in a refrigerator for up to two weeks (if it gets cloudy, it's no longer safe for feeders) or freeze to store longer.
Cleaning your hummingbird feeder is simple, and it's important not to use bleach or any harsh cleaners which can contaminate your feeder even after rinsing. Use a mild mixture of white vinegar and water and use a bottle brush, pipe cleaners or small brushes to clean every part of the feeder. Your feeder should be cleaned once per week, and the sugar-water should be replaced if it looks cloudy or moldy.
It's not necessary to hang your feeder all year long, unless you live in warm climates. Hummingbirds migrate south for the winter, and they'll leave northern areas anywhere from July through November. You can help migrating birds by leaving your feeder up for a few weeks after you've seen your last hummingbird of the season. The birds can use the nectar to fuel their trip south. Also, if any birds are injured or ill, they may start their journey south later than other birds, and they can use the nectar provided by your feeder. Your feeder can be put back up in the Spring to anticipate the returning birds.
A few more tips: Hummingbirds can be very territorial and may fight over feeders. If you place more than one feeder, try to place them so they're not within viewing distance of one another. Don't use any pesticides or a petroleum-based product to keep ants and bees away, for they may be hazardous to the birds. And don't worry about feeders if you're away from home for a period of time. Hummingbirds have plenty of other sources of food.
Hummingbirds can make great 'pets' as they visit and revisit feeders outside your home. They provide hours upon hours of entertainment!