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You Can Feed Hummingbirds From the Palm of Your Hand With This Tiny Feeder

Whether you're a pro or novice bird-watcher, bird feeders are a fun, easy way to add a little life to your backyard. But with so many hummingbird feeder options on the market, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. We talked to John Rowden, director of community conservation at the National Audubon Society to find out everything you need to know about creating your own hummingbird oasis that's safe for the birds and stress-free for you.

What should I look for in a hummingbird feeder?

All of our picks are red, and that's no accident — hummingbirds prefer red feeders because most of the flowers they feed from have red in them. You'll also want to look for feeders that are easy to clean. This is one of the most important things, stresses Rowden: Feeders must be cleaned every couple of days to ensure that the nectar doesn't spoil, especially in the summer. If your nectar does spoil, it could turn hummingbirds away from your feeder forever!

To clean the feeder, pour out any remaining nectar and then disassemble the parts (avoid feeders with tons of tiny parts). "Scrub all the parts thoroughly with hot water and a bottle brush," like this all-in-one set from Oxo, advises Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab director. Be sure to let all parts dry thoroughly before reassembling to avoid mold growth. You can rinse with a weak vinegar solution but don't reach for soap since it can leave behind a residue.

Where is the best place to hang a hummingbird feeder?

Pick a spot in your backyard with vegetation no more than 10 to 15 feet away: Hummingbirds feel most comfortable where there's cover nearby, explains Rowden. You should also find a spot that's easy for you to access every couple of days to clean and refill the feeder. Want to hang a few feeders? Great! Just be sure to place them at least 50 feet apart or on opposite sides of your house — hummingbirds can be extremely territorial.

What else attracts hummingbirds to a feeder? Fresh nectar! While you can buy premade versions, it’s simple enough to make yourself with just two ingredients: refined white sugar and water. Mix one part sugar with four parts water until the sugar is dissolved. Not only is it OK to feed hummingbirds sugar water, it's their preference!

Now that you have the lowdown, check out our top hummingbird feeder picks: