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.

    • I live in the mountains of Julian California (San Diego county). I have three 24oz. feeders out which I have to fill twice a day. I make a gallon and a half of nectar every day. I have 6 to 12 birds at each of my feeders constantly through out the day. Morning and evening the number goes up to at least 15 birds per feeder, each feeder only has 10 ports.
      I thought I might have around 400 birds, but his calculation I would have over 800 birds. The birds won’t start thinning out until about October, keeps me quite busy but I love it.

    • June,

      Thanks for the information about hummingbirds. Since you live in a hummingbird-rich state, we Georgians can only wish would could see all of the hummingbirds that come to Texas.

      Right now we are making 20 cups of nectar every 23 days for the hummers that visit our Middle Georgia backyard.


  5. Central California Foothills. The Rufus, Anna’s and Costas are her now, it is mid August. In the evening, the 7 station feeders are stacked with hummers, two to three birds at one port. There are three feeders. I easily use a gallon a day. We are in the foothills of Yosemite. That is about 552! We also have the orioles! There are at least 45 species of birds on our property. It is so fun to watch.

    • Pam,
      Wow! I cannot begin to tell you how envious we are of the birds are are enjoying around your yard and feeders. Here in Georgia at my home my wife and I are feeding 60+ ruby-throated hummingbirds that a preparing to migrate. We are feeding 20 cups of food each day. Orchard orioles nest here but don’t visit our feeders. Baltimore orioles pass through and sometime winter here.
      Thanks so much for your post!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.