Hummingbird feeders do attract bears since they contain a sweet and high-calorie food source. When hummingbird feeders are filled with nectar or bird food and placed in your yard, bears will try to get at the food source to eat it.
If you live in bear country and place hummingbird feeders in your yard, there’s a high chance bears will start coming near your home.
Below are the reasons why and how you can prevent it.
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Why Are Bears Attracted to Hummingbird Feeders?
Hummingbird feeders typically contain nectar, which is high in calories and sweet.
A full regular-sized hummingbird feeder can have nearly 800 calories in it.
This makes it attractive to bears looking to put on the pounds before or after hibernation.
Plus, bears are known to love sugar. Nectar is nearly pure sugar with three different kinds: fructose, sucrose, and glucose.
Putting a sugary substance out in a container in an open yard will make it easy for bears to smell it.
Do Bears Have a Strong Sense of Smell?
Bears are known for their strong sense of smell, which is 2,100 times better than humans’ abilities.
Even the sniffing abilities of a bloodhound can’t beat a bear’s, which are 7 times better.
If there’s a dead animal 20 feet away, a bear can easily pick up its scent.
The same thing happens when nectar or bird feed is left hanging in the open air.
Key Takeaway: Not only will bears be able to sniff out and follow the trail, breezes and winds can easily help those grizzlies find the food source faster.
Can I Bring in My Hummingbird Feeder at Night?
Even though bears are more active hunters at night, they’re still known for finding and foraging food during the day.
A hummingbird feeder full of nectar is going to prompt them to make the journey from their home to yours, regardless of the hour.
After winter ends, bears will be especially hungry. Any food source will be game. If the hummingbird feeder only has residues of nectar, it’s still bound to attract bears.
Leaving a feeder in a vehicle or a nearby trash can isn’t safe either.
You’ll want to store your feeder in a bear-proof container that’s placed inside your garage or home.
What If I Hang the Hummingbird Feeder Higher?
Hanging a hummingbird feeder higher up in a tree or on a taller pole might make it more difficult for bears to reach the nectar.
However, it won’t stop them from trying.
In fact, bears will probably eventually make it up there or find a way to knock the feeder down.
If any nectar has dripped down onto the ground or along the pole and tree bark, this will continue to attract bears.
Don’t Forget: You’ll want to clean up any debris after you take down a hummingbird feeder.
When Can I Hang Bird Feeders?
Since bird feeders cause over 80% of bear problems near homes, it’s best to only have them out during the hibernation season.
This is usually between December and March. However, unseasonably warm winters might shorten the season.
Likewise, unseasonably cold fall or spring weather could lengthen bears’ hibernation schedules.
But if you live in a mountainous area or bear country, it’s best to stick to the conventional winter schedule and remove feeders promptly if you notice a problem.
What About Fenced Yards?
Having a 6-foot fence around your yard puts up a barrier for bears to overcome.
Some may be deterred by a fence, but other bears might be tempted to find a way over it.
This is especially true if you hang a hummingbird feeder in a tree that extends beyond the fence.
Tree with branches higher than the fence or limbs that go over the fence are more vulnerable.
But it’s the bear’s strong sense of smell and drive for food that’s the real problem.
Bears are known to get into vehicles that contain fast food bags.
For Example: If bears are willing to smash through windows to follow the scent of French fries or taco grease, they won’t hesitate to break through a fence. Or a clever bear might find a way to climb up and over the barrier.
How Can I Feed Hummingbirds Without Attracting Bears?
Instead of using hummingbird feeders, you can still attract and help out the birds by planting flowers they’ll like.
Hummingbirds tend to be attracted to bright red flowers that they can extract nectar from.
Bears won’t be attracted to the flowers at all.
Some of the flowers that bring hummingbirds to a yard include:
- Bee balms
You can also put in a few shrubs, bushes, and a birdbath.
Birds tend to like nesting in shrubs and bushes. So, if you’d rather not have new house guests in your yard, be sure to leave shrubs and bushes off the table.
Hummingbird feeders are one way to invite birds into your yard.
However, these feeders are notorious for attracting bears.
Although bears are more interested in getting to the nectar than getting into a confrontation with you, having bears near your home is problematic.
Bears can become aggressive if they get scared or think they’re being threatened. Also, once bears know a food source is nearby, they’ll keep coming back.
If you live in bear country, it’s best to attract hummingbirds to your yard with flowers instead.