As long as there have been test tube hummingbird feeders, the most commonly asked question is; “Should I use glass or plastic tubes?” Is there a difference in attracting hummingbirds? Does one material last longer than the other and is one easier to clean?
The most obviously difference in these materials is that glass will break easier than plastic. If you drop a glass tube versus a plastic tube, it will probably shatter. However, a plastic tube scratches very easily. When placed outside with the normal elements such as sun and rain, a plastic tube will turn a dingy yellow, whereas glass tubes are more resilient to weather conditions.
Cleaning the two different types of tubes can also pose a challenge. The sugar/water hummingbird nectar solution turns rapidly into a sticky, molasses-type composite. Removing this sticky nectar is more difficult with plastic tubes than glass. Many people use specifically designed brushes or pipe cleaners in order to get inside the test tubes to clean them. These same brushes with stiff bristles are needed to get to the bottom of the test tube hummingbird feeders but tend to scratch the softer, plastic tubes. Glass tubes are clinically developed products that can withstand the constant cleaning necessary for all hummingbird feeders. Remember, the cleaner the feeder, the more hummingbirds you will attract in your backyard.
Even the red caps on the ends of test tube feeders must be taken into consideration when making your test tube decisions. Red caps that fit inside the rim of tubes are easily to install, but harder to remove than red caps that are designed to go on the outside of the tube ends. After the nectar solution grips onto the inside surface of test tube hummingbird feeders, it also forms a glue-like bonding on the red caps. If you purchase only the red caps that fit on the outside of the tubes, you do not have that sticky, bonding problem. Simply run warm water over any stubborn tubes and the properly designed red caps come right off the test tube hummingbird feeders.
The most overlooked part of these style of hummingbird feeders is the copper wire. Many crafters, or anyone wishing to make their own tube feeders, use the wrong thickness. Copper is extremely flexible which makes it prone to weaknesses in weather conditions. If you use the thinner copper wire to hold the test tubes in place, you will discover your tubes on the ground in a very short period of time .