Lately it seems like everywhere I go folks are talking about how many hummingbirds are visiting their backyard feeders.  Indeed, it seems there is no shortage of these small, flying dynamos invading Georgia backyards this summer.  With that in mind, most hummingbird fanciers would like to know how many hummingbirds they are feeding.

       Several years ago, an Arizona hummingbird fancier named Stephen Russell came up with a novel way to estimate the numbers of hummingbirds feeding in his backyard.  This technique is based on the amount of hummingbird food the birds consume.  Here is how it works. RUBYTHROAT AT FEEDER 2 - Blog - 2 August 2017

       I will not go into all of the calculations he used to determine how many birds a gallon of hummingbird food mixed at a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water will feed.  Suffice it to say he determined that a quart of hummingbird nectar will feed 137.25 birds.

       Therefore, if you know how much food disappears from your feeders in a day’s time, you can easily calculate how many birds you are feeding.  For example, if the birds consume a pint of nectar in a day, your are feeding roughly 68 hummers.

       If you try this technique, let me know what you think of the estimate obtained using the Russell formula.




  1. I think his guestimate is pretty right on. I’m feeding a little over a gallon a day. Would have been more had I been here today when the feeders ran dry out front. I’m seeing 30-35 birds at once in the early morning and in the evenings. So if we times that by 6 his method isn’t far off with the method I’ve used for years.

  2. Using the above method and also the count x by 6 method, I am feeding at least 72 hummers (I’ve counted anywhere between 12-15 hummers at one go). FYI – I’m in Victoria, BC, Canada,

  3. My hummers go through about 1/2 gallon a day, but I have multiple visits from hooded orioles as well

    • Doug,

      Thanks for your reply. What species of hummingbirds are you feeding? As for a hooded oriole, if one showed up in Georgia it would be BIG news! I am envious.


  4. Based on these calculations, I am feeding over 500 birds from 8 large capacity feeders. I go through about a gallon of nectar per day. I live on the Central Oregon Coast. The birds are mostly Anna now, but we see Ruffus’s in Feb when they are passing through. I’m wondering if we’re on a migration path?

    • Colleen,

      Wow! You are so lucky to see that many hummers in your yard and the hummers are fortunate you are willing to go to so much trouble to help them out. That is a win-win situation.

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