Humming Bird

Are Plastic Hummingbird Feeders Safe?

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correct answerThe Short Answer is:
It depends on the type of plastic used in the feeder. Some plastics, such as styrene and polypropylene, are better than others and are considered safe for hummingbird feeders. However, other types of plastic may not be safe and may contain harmful chemicals such as BPA. Glass feeders are also considered safe and are easier to clean than plastic feeders. It is important to research the type of feeder and materials used before purchasing to ensure it is safe for hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that bring joy and wonder to any backyard. One way to attract them is by using a hummingbird feeder.

However, with so many options available, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best for your feathered friends. One common concern is:  Are Plastic Hummingbird Feeders Safe?

In this article, we will explore this question and provide tips on how to safely use hummingbird feeders to attract and care for these beautiful creatures.

Potential Risks: Examining the safety concerns associated with plastic feeders

Plastic hummingbird feeders are a popular choice due to their affordability and durability. However, there are potential risks associated with plastic feeders that should be considered.

One concern is the possibility of microplastics filtering into the nectar, which can be harmful to hummingbirds. Additionally, plastic feeders can warp, change shape, fade, and crack over time with use and exposure to the elements.

Some plastic feeders may also contain BPA, which can leach into the nectar and potentially harm hummingbirds. While plastic is approved for humans by the FDA, a Harvard study has shown that this plastic does leach high levels of BPA.

Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the safety concerns associated with plastic feeders before making a purchase. If you do choose to use a plastic feeder, it is important to regularly inspect it for signs of wear and tear and to replace it if necessary to ensure the safety of hummingbirds.

Chemical Leaching: Understanding the Impact on hummingbird health

Chemical leaching is the process by which chemicals are released from a material due to exposure to water or other liquids. Chemical leaching can have a significant impact on hummingbird health, particularly when it comes to exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. Here are some key points to consider:


Hummingbirds are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of exposure to pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides. Research has shown that even short-term exposure to these chemicals can disrupt the high-powered metabolism of hummingbirds, leading to reduced energy expenditure.

Although researchers did not observe impacts to flying or feeding behavior, or other signs of neurotoxicity, hummingbird exposure to these insecticides could still have wide-ranging effects.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical commonly found in plastic products, including hummingbird feeders. BPA can mimic estrogen and flood estrogen receptors in the body, leading to a range of negative health effects.

While the impact of BPA on hummingbirds specifically is not well-studied, it is possible that exposure to this chemical could have negative effects on their health.


Many chemicals, including pesticides and BPA, can leach out of plastic hummingbird feeders and into the nectar solution. This can lead to exposure for hummingbirds that consume the nectar, potentially leading to negative health effects.

Overall, it is important to be mindful of the potential impact of chemical leaching on hummingbird health when using plastic hummingbird feeders. Consider using glass or ceramic feeders instead, and avoid using pesticides or other chemicals in your yard or garden.

UV Degradation: How sunlight affects plastic feeders

UV degradation is a process where plastics break down when exposed to UV light. This process can cause plastic feeders to weaken and become brittle over time, which can lead to cracks and other forms of damage. Here are some key points to consider regarding UV degradation and plastic feeders:

  • UV light can cause plastics to break down: Exposure to UV light can cause plastics to break down over time, which can lead to cracks and other forms of damage.
  • Sugar units can increase degradability: Researchers have discovered that adding sugar units to polymers can increase their degradability when exposed to UV radiation. This could potentially be used to create plastics that break down more quickly when exposed to sunlight.
  • Degradation rates vary by plastic type: Different types of plastics degrade at different rates when exposed to UV light. For example, polystyrene degrades on much shorter time scales than previously estimated, while PET, PP, and PS degradation rates are sparse.
  • Degradation can release harmful chemicals: When plastics degrade, they can release harmful chemicals and additives into the environment. This can be a concern for plastic feeders that come into contact with food or water.
  • Biofouling can hinder degradation: Biofouling, or the accumulation of microorganisms on the surface of plastics, can hinder the rate of photodegradation by decreasing sunlight penetration.

Overall, while plastic hummingbird feeders are generally considered safe, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with UV degradation.

To minimize these risks, it is recommended to choose high-quality plastic feeders that are designed to withstand UV exposure and to replace them periodically to ensure they remain in good condition.

Additionally, it may be worth considering alternative materials such as glass or metal, which are less susceptible to UV degradation.

Maintenance and Cleaning: Ensuring hygiene and safety

Plastic hummingbird feeders are safe as long as they are cleaned regularly and properly. It is important to keep the feeders clean and hygienic to ensure the health and safety of the hummingbirds.

Most importantly, feeders must be cleaned between refillings, and it is recommended to clean them every three days in hot weather and once a week in cooler weather. Cleaning with hot tap water works fine, or use a weak vinegar solution.

Avoid using dish soap, as this can leave harmful residue in the feeder. It is also recommended to use quality made feeders and to clean them outside so as not to contaminate the sinks inside the house.

If you don’t have time to clean your feeder right away, it is better to have a backup feeder. Having a hummingbird feeder is a lot of maintenance, but it is worth it to keep the hummingbirds happy and healthy.

Alternatives to Plastic Feeders: Exploring safer material options

Plastic hummingbird feeders have been a popular choice for many years, but concerns have been raised about their safety. If you’re looking for alternatives to plastic feeders, there are several options available.

One option is to make your own feeder using non-toxic materials like pipe cleaners or non-toxic paints. You can also use open containers like wine or water bottles, PVC piping, red solo cups, or small spice or baby food jars.

Glass reservoirs are a great option as they don’t deteriorate in the sun like plastic, are easier to clean, and don’t promote mold growth. Glass feeders are also more attractive and long-lasting than plastic feeders.

If you prefer plastic feeders, make sure to choose one that is easy to clean and has insect protection. Ultimately, the choice between glass and plastic feeders comes down to personal preference and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to the Topic:

Is a glass or plastic hummingbird feeder better?

Both glass and plastic hummingbird feeders are good options, and the choice comes down to personal preferences and the pros and cons of each. Glass feeders are more long-lasting and attractive, while plastic feeders are budget-friendly and easy to use.

What is the safest thing to feed hummingbirds?

The safest thing to feed hummingbirds is a simple sugar water solution made with white table sugar and water, with a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. It is important to avoid using honey, artificial sweeteners, or red dye, and to keep the feeder clean.

How do you sterilize a plastic hummingbird feeder?

Rinse the plastic hummingbird feeder with hot water each time it is filled. You can also use soap and water, vinegar, or a dilute solution of chlorine bleach to clean the feeder.

Conclusion: Are Plastic Hummingbird Feeders Safe?

In conclusion, plastic hummingbird feeders are safe for hummingbirds, and there are no signs of microplastic or chemicals ending up in the nectar. However, it is important to consider the type of plastic used in the feeder.

Styrene and polypropylene plastics are better than all other plastics, except polycarbonates. Glass feeders are also a good option as they are longer-lasting, easier to clean, and do not promote mold growth.

It is recommended to choose a feeder with multiple feeding ports and one that allows hummingbirds to perch as opposed to hovering. Regardless of the type of feeder chosen, it is important to clean it regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

Mary Cynthia

Mary Cynthia is a passionate author who pours her love for birds into her captivating blog posts. With her extensive knowledge of avian species and habitats, she shares fascinating insights, nurturing a sense of wonder and appreciation for these beautiful creatures. Through her engaging storytelling, she invites readers into the enchanting world of birds, fostering a deeper connection with nature.

Peter Weber

Peter Weber is an esteemed author and content reviewer whose profound love for birds has shaped his life and writing. With an unquenchable curiosity and deep appreciation for avian wonders, he delves into the world of ornithology, capturing the essence of birds in his eloquent prose.

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