There are two schools of thought out there as to whether you should group multiple hummingbird feeders together or should spread them out. It's akin to the lumpers vs. splitters argument of should the Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted Flickers be split or lumped into a single Northern Flicker species. Just not so scientific.
Anyway, Bob Sargent, noted hummingbird expert and President of The Hummer/Bird Study Group, Inc., is a grouper. His advice is to cluster as many feeders together as you can. The more feeders you have, the more birds you will have. Also, if you have lots of feeders clustered together, it is much more difficult for bully birds to guard them all.
BirdWatcher's Digest also recommends this approach in their recommendations on how to "foil a bully hummer".
Last year, this "bully" hummingbird on the feeder above would just sit for minutes on end at this feeder, not necessarily feeding, but just guarding the feeder. He would even perch facing outwards, just in order to "claim" the feeder.
The other school of thought is to spread the feeders out, keeping them out of sight of each other. The popular hummingbirds.net website favors this approach.
Our recommendation at the store is to SPREAD 'EM OUT!
The grouping approach seems to make sense where hummingbird numbers are high, like along the Gulf Coast (where Bob Sargent is located) or in the southwest. At these hummingbird "dream locations", literally hundreds of hummingbirds share a feeder location as they gather to consume massive amounts of nectar, especially during migration.
(Image courtesy of WBU Inc. Image Library)
But where hummingbird numbers are lower like here in upstate New York, we recommend spreading the feeders out. In our area, we seldom see more than 2 hummingbirds sharing a single feeder or 4-5 hummingbirds at any one time in the yard.
Here's how we approach it: we have 5 hummingbird feeders hung at windows on 3 different sides of the house. They are all visible from the living area. This way we have been able to observe 3-4 hummingbirds feeding at once, each at a different feeder. We've had good success with this approach, and it is why we recommend it, at least for folks with similar hummingbird population and activity.
WBU Purple Decorative Feeder
hung amongst flowers at window box
What has worked in your area? Have you tried both approaches? Let us know what YOU recommend in the hummingbird feeder "grouper vs. spreader" debate.