Is the nectar from your hummingbird feeder being drained overnight? If you’ve ruled out leaks then you’re probably scratching your head thinking what is drinking my hummingbird food at night?
There are a variety of animals that will drink hummingbird nectar at night. The main culprits are bats, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, bears, insects, and orioles. These animals will recognize your hummingbird feeders as an easy food source they can access during the night.
The problem is that if your feeders are empty each morning then there is nothing left for the hummingbirds. Without a reliable food source, it’s likely the hummingbirds will stop coming to your yard. That can be really frustrating if you enjoy attracting the hummingbirds and watching them feed.
It’s important to identify which animal is raiding your feeder before you can stop them. This guide will take you through how to identify what animal is responsible and how you can stop them.
Let’s jump in.
What Is Drinking My Hummingbird Food At Night?
Before you start trying to put a stop to the nectar thief, you need to know which animal you’re dealing with. Tailoring your deterrent solution toward a specific animal is the best way to keep them away from your hummingbird feeders at night.
Let’s look at the best ways you can identify what animal is drinking your hummingbird nectar.
Set up a trail cam
The easiest way to know which animal is causing issues with your hummingbird feeder is to catch them in the act.
There is no better way to do this than using a trail camera pointed at your feeder (like this one).
Trail cams are ideal because they can be well hidden and will be able to film during the dark. Put it this way, they’ll save you from having to stay awake to the early hours to see if you can catch a glimpse of the animals responsible.
What’s even better about a trail cam is that it will show you exactly how the animal is emptying your feeder. This gives you great insight into how you can stop them from draining the nectar inside.
The footage you’ll get from animals visiting your yard will give you hours of entertainment. You’ll also be able to see some of the hummingbirds that visit when you’re not around to see them.
Scat and trail marks
Have a look around your yard for any animal poop or trail marks from them foraging around. The nest pace to look for trail marks is in areas of soft soil such as plant beds.
Nocturnal wildlife may also leave scat where they’ve been walking around your yard. Animal poop is usually distinctive to each species and can help you identify what’s been near your hummingbird feeders.
Remember to be careful when looking around for animal poop. It usually carries all types of disease which can make you unwell if you come into contact with it. Raccoon poop is particularly bad for your health.
Assess the damage
The third method of you can use to detect the culprit is to look around your yard for other signs of damage.
Animals such as possums, raccoons, bears, and squirrels will try to raid your bins for other food scraps.
You may even notice some damage to any plants and crops you have in your yard. Often you can tell from bite marks, or eating patterns which animal has been visiting. If insects are the culprits you may even find their eggs or caterpillars on plants near to your feeder.
What Animals drink hummingbird food At Night?
There are several animals that can empty the nectar from your hummingbird feeders overnight. We’ll look at each one and give you advice on how you can stop them from draining your feeders.
If your hummingbird feeder is emptied each night, my first guess would be that bats are the culprits.
Bats can easily access the nectar inside your feeder by landing and drinking. They may even hover over the feeder ports and use their long tongue to sip the nectar out.
Bats drink your hummingbird nectar as their diet is very similar to a hummingbirds. Some bats mainly eat insects but other species mainly eat fruit and nectar to give them energy. These bats are attracted to the sweet nectar smell.
Although bats can be annoying it’s important to realize that they are beneficial for our environment. But, if you’re concerned about the fact that bats carry diseases then you’ll want to stop them coming to your feeders.
A quick solution to stop bats at your feeder is to make the nectar unavailable to them. You can either take your feeders down or cover them up at night. The problem with this is that you’ll need to wake up 20 minutes before sunrise to make the feeders available to the hummingbird again.
If you like your sleep, then attach a bee guard (these are the ones you want) to your feeding ports. This is a simple way to keep your feeder out but stop the bats from getting access to the nectar inside.
2. SquirrelsWhat Is Drinking My Hummingbird Food At Night?
As a backyard bird watcher, I doubt you’ll be surprised to find squirrels on this list. Squirrels will raid any type of birdfeeder you have available. Your hummingbird feeders are no different.
They’ll love to fill up on the sugary nectar inside and this will give them the energy to forage for food and build up fat stores for winter.
Squirrels will get to your hummingbird nectar by tilting the feeder to the angle that the nectar will drip out and they will sip it up.
The squirrel will be able to reach your feeders by climbing onto a nearby surface or down where the hummingbird feeder is mounted. The quickest way to stop squirrels from accessing your feeder is to use a squirrel baffle (like this one).
Squirrels don’t like strong smells, so you can add a bit of cinnamon to your hummingbird nectar. The hummingbirds don’t bother about it but the squirrels will hate the taste.
3. Raccoons & Opossums
Raccoons and opossums are hungry critters who will eat pretty much anything they can find. They have a strong sense of smell and will be attracted to the sugary sweetness of the nectar.
Just like the squirrels, they get to the nectar by tipping the feeders until the nectar drips out. Both animals are very good climbers and will work hard to find a way to devour your hummingbird nectar.
You’ll find that raccoons and possums will try to know tour feeders to the ground. That way they can pick them up and drink them like a big old mug.
Make sure your hummingbird feeders are secured in place and can’t be easily knocked off the mount. A raccoon baffle (this one is great) can also be used to try and keep both animals from climbing up and getting at your feeder in the first place.
You can also check out my guide on how to deter raccoons from coming into your garden.
If you live in bear territory, you may have a big problem on your hands. Bears are able to smell the scent of nectar from miles off and it will attract them straight to your yard.
Bears can easily pull down any poles the feeders are mounted on, then drink the nectar inside.
The best deterrent against bears is to have a sturdy railing or fence to keep them out in the first place. If that’s not possible try to hang your feeder at least 10ft off the ground so it’s too high for the bears to reach.
Keeping feeder close to your home won’t be enough to scare a hungry bear off. It may also put you or your family at risk and encourage bears to come back for more.
The best thing to do is take your feeders down. Remember that bears hibernate in October. You may be able to hang your feeders out for a few weeks before the last of the hummingbird migrate south for winter.
5. Flying Insects
There are a few flying insects that may be responsible for emptying your hummingbird feeders.
Flying insects that eat nectar include:
- Yellow Jackets
Some of these insects are nocturnal and can have free range to your hummingbird feeders during the night. Others may not feed at night but can attack your feeders very early in the morning before you wake.
Flying insects are normally a lot smaller than the other animals or birds on this list. Yet they are able to drain the feeders due to the volume of insects. In fact, they actively tell other members of their species where to find this amazing food source.
The good news is that there are lots of ways you can keep them away. Check out my article on 14 easy ways you can keep flying insects away from your hummingbird feeders.
If you can’t find any evidence of animals near your feeders then you may have an ant problem on your hands.
Ants are bad news for your hummingbird feeders. They contaminate the nectar by falling in and making it taste bad for the hummingbirds. They also carry diseases and even pesticides which pose a risk to the hummingbird’s health.
Like the flying insects, ants will attack your feeder in huge numbers and quickly empty the feeders. In fact, they’ll lay scent trails to your feeder for other ants to find them easily.
Check out my article on 13 ways to keep ants away from your hummingbird feeders. You’ll also find 5 methods that I don’t recommend you use.
When you’re trying to attract one nectar-loving bird, you may just find that you attract more than one species.
Orioles are well-known birds that love to eat nectar too. They will happily use your hummingbird feeders to fill up on the sweet drink.
Orioles will mostly feed on hummingbird feeders when they think no one can see them. And because they are a lot bigger than a hummingbird your supply can empty quickly.
If you like watching hummingbirds you probably don’t have a problem with the orioles visiting too. Yet if they are dominating your hummingbird feeders then it’s probably best for you to buy them an oriole feeder of their own. This is the bestselling one on Amazon.
Oriole feeders are orange rather the red as this color attracts them better. Also, the portholes are designed for orioles to feed easier than a hummingbird feeder. Some even have extra attachments for fruit and jelly.
The good news is that the nectar recipe is the same. So you can just make a bigger batch to feed both birds and keep them happy.
If your hummingbird feeders are being emptied at night, the first step is to find the animal responsible. You can put measurements in place to stop them. There are a variety of animals, birds, and insects that can be draining your hummingbird food. Yet you can use devices like a trail cam or even just animal tracking skills to find out what’s causing the issue.
Use this guide to know what measures to put in place straight away. You’ll soon have your hummingbird feeder up and well-stocked for when the hungry birds arrive in the morning.