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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


Ohio Birds

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Invited Summer Guests: Hummingbird Feeders


Have you ever wanted to see a hummingbird up close—to watch as it hovers like a helicopter and then flies forward, backward, or even sideways? If hummingbirds live in your area, you can. In summer, seed-eating birds may not be as plentiful at the feeders but it is an excellent time to feed hummingbirds. All you have to do is follow the directions for building a hummingbird feeder. Then fill your feeder with homemade nectar and hang it outdoors.

In Ohio, hummingbird feeders should be put out mid-April and left until mid-October.

Hummingbird Feeder

What you will need

• three small jars with lids
• hammer
• three nails
• waterproof paint
• stiff wire
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup sugar

Be sure to ask an adult to help you with the construction of these feeders. Hammer
a nail through each of the lids to make a hole about 1/8 inch in diameter. Turn each
lid over and flatten the rough edges by tapping lightly with your hammer. Using
waterproof paint, paint a large red flower on top of one lid, a large flower in the color
of your choice on the second lid, and leave the third plain. Wrap some stiff wire
around the neck of each jar. Twist the wire just tight enough to stay on.
Next, make some hummingbird “nectar.” Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add
1/4 cup sugar. Make sure the sugar dissolves completely. Do not substitute honey
for the sugar. A honey mixture may cause a disease in the birds. Food coloring is not
After the syrup is cool, fill each feeder. Store any extra syrup in the refrigerator. Put
the lids on the feeders and hang them in a spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight.
Ohio Birds • 35
When a hummingbird sees the red “flower” on your feeder, it will think the flower is
real. And the bird knows that most red flowers have lots of nectar. (A hummingbird
loves nectar. It may drink up to seven times its body weight in nectar in one day.)
So while the hummingbird drinks your nectar, you can get a really good look at this
incredible flying machine.
Red seems to be a preferred color, but a good experiment would be to measure the
same amount of nectar into each feeder. Watch, if you can, to see how many visits
hummingbirds make to each of the three feeders in any period of time. At the end
of two weeks, compare the contents of each feeder to see what was the order of
preference. Which color of lid was preferred more by the hummingbirds?
Wash your feeder every four days (with the exception of the experiment described
above). Pour a little vinegar into the jar and scrub it


This is a 4-H Solar Eclipse activity by Cynthia Canan, PhD, State 4-H STEM Specialist, Ohio State University Extension and Sara Newsome, 4-H Alumnus and STEM Student Assistant, The Ohio State University
Reviewed by: Wayne Schlingman, PhD, Director of the Arne Slettebak Planetarium, The Ohio State University and Zoie Clay, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development,Ohio State University Extension-Lawrence County

Topic: Space Science | Estimated time: 30 minutes | For individuals and groups | 

NOTE: It is never safe to look at the sun without proper eye protection. The only time this changes is when the moon has completely blocked all parts of the sun during a total solar eclipse.


  • bookmark (printed on white cardstock)

  • hole punch

  • scissors

  • string or ribbon

  • tape or glue

  • UV sensitive beads (4-10 per bookmark)


  1. Print and cut out the bookmark.
  2. Fold the bookmark in half. Tape or glue the two sides together.
  3. Punch a hole in the top of the bookmark through the marked circle.
  4. Allow students to color and decorate their bookmarks if desired.
  5. Cut a length of string or ribbon 6 to 8 inches long.
  6. Tie the ribbon to the hole in the bookmark.
  7. String the UV beads onto the ribbon, securing each end with a knot.

For more solar eclipse activities, visit

Unless otherwise noted, all images provided by by Getty Images.

ALL SOLAR ECLIPSE VIEWING RISKS BORNE BY THE VIEWER. Any and all risks associated by viewing the solar eclipse on any property operated by, or with glasses distributed by the Ohio State University, are borne and accepted solely by the individual taking such action. Instructions on how to use the glasses are printed on the inside of the glasses. Please read them carefully and follow the instructions exactly as written. You hereby release The Ohio State University, its Trustees, boards, officers, employees and representatives from any liability, for any and all claims and causes of action for loss of or damage to property and for any and all illness or injury to your person that may result from or occur during your participation in the activity, whether caused by negligence of The Ohio State University, its Trustees, boards, officers, employees, or representatives, or otherwise. See instructions on glasses before use.