TOP-FILL HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER WITH FLOAT VALVE BASE CLOSURE MECHANISM HAVING A FOAM/FRAME FLOAT
1. A top-fill hummingbird feeder comprising:
- a nectar container with a liquid flow opening at a lower end and a removable cap at an upper end;
a feeding basin positioned below the nectar container for containing nectar accessed by birds through at least one feeding port;
a sealing mechanism associated with the liquid flow opening of the nectar container and the feeding basin, said sealing mechanism including a float valve which, when the float valve is in a first position, opens the liquid flow opening allowing fluid to flow from said container into said basin and, when the float valve is in a second position, closes the liquid flow opening to prevent fluid flow from said container into said basin; and
said float valve including a frame and a buoyant member.
A top-fill hummingbird feeder is provided having a nectar container with a liquid flow opening at a lower end and a removable cap at an upper end, a feeding basin positioned below the nectar container, and a sealing mechanism associated with the liquid flow opening and the feeding basin. The sealing mechanism includes a bottle seal assembly configured for removable coupling with a base of the feeding basin, and a float valve captured by said bottle seal assembly to prevent rotation thereof while allowing the float valve to move upwardly and downwardly with changing nectar levels in the feeding basin. The float valve includes a float having a frame with a buoyant member mounted thereon, the buoyant member being made of a closed-cell foam.
- 1. A top-fill hummingbird feeder comprising:
a nectar container with a liquid flow opening at a lower end and a removable cap at an upper end; a feeding basin positioned below the nectar container for containing nectar accessed by birds through at least one feeding port; a sealing mechanism associated with the liquid flow opening of the nectar container and the feeding basin, said sealing mechanism including a float valve which, when the float valve is in a first position, opens the liquid flow opening allowing fluid to flow from said container into said basin and, when the float valve is in a second position, closes the liquid flow opening to prevent fluid flow from said container into said basin; and said float valve including a frame and a buoyant member.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19)
This application claims priority from U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 62/661,879, filed Apr. 24, 2018.
The present invention is related to the field of bird feeders and, more particularly, to top-fill hummingbird feeders.
People who live in an area inhabited by hummingbirds frequently try to promote their presence by the use of hummingbird feeders. Since hummingbirds feed on nectar or simulated nectar, hummingbird feeders store a quantity of liquid nectar (or simulated nectar) in a reservoir from which the nectar is conveyed to a feeding basin with feed ports through which hummingbirds may access the nectar.
While hummingbird feeders have various configurations for controlling the flow of nectar into the feeding basin so that nectar does not overflow through the feed ports, one effective design is that of a float valve closure mechanism disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 8,869,743 (“the 743 patent”) which is co-owned by the assignee of the instant invention. The complete disclosure of the '"'"'743 patent is hereby incorporated by reference herein as if set forth in its entirety.
The float valve closure mechanism disclosed in the '"'"'743 patent includes a float made of molded plastic. A float having a lighter weight and greater buoyancy would allow for smaller feeder base and reservoir designs while maintaining good nectar flow control characteristics.
The present invention is directed to a hummingbird feeder like that disclosed in the '"'"'743 patent which includes a generally upstanding reservoir bottle or nectar container having an open top end for receiving nectar to be held in the container, and a removable top or cap screw-threaded onto the top end to close the top end opening. The lower end of the nectar container has a bottom opening, preferably in the form of a bottleneck-shaped cylindrical extension with external threads that can be screw-threaded into an upstanding collar of a feeding basin. As in the '"'"'743 patent, the lower end of the bottleneck extension is provided with a seal plate having a central opening and a downwardly projecting nozzle positioned under the seal plate. The nozzle has a liquid flow channel that extends from the nozzle tip to the central opening in the seal plate.
The feeding basin is coupled below the nectar container and has a plurality of feeding ports in a known arrangement through which hummingbirds access nectar in the basin. A float valve is positioned in the well of the feeding basin and includes a generally cylindrical foam/frame float that acts to close the liquid flow channel in the nozzle when the feeding basin is filled with liquid nectar to the prescribed level. When the foam/frame float of the float valve is in a lower position, liquid flows from the container through the nozzle liquid flow channel and into the feeding basin. When the float rises to an upper position, a float seal on the foam/frame float engages the nozzle tip to seal off the liquid flow channel.
The foam/frame float includes a frame and a float. The frame resembles a wheel having a perimeter rim and an open central area. The open central area is bisected by a cross piece or bridge having a center piece that is joined to the rim on either end. The central area on either side of the bridge is open to accommodate the collar of the feeding basin, while the float seal is positioned in the center piece. The float is an annular foam member which is mounted on the frame rim like a tire on a wheel rim. The foam member causes the float to be lightweight and buoyant to float in the liquid nectar. The foam member is preferably formed of a closed cell foam that does not absorb fluid, such as hummingbird nectar.
In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the present invention to provide a reliable, consumer-friendly hummingbird feeder having a liquid-holding container or bottle with a large open top for easy top filling and cleaning of the container, and a float valve that includes a float having a buoyant member mounted on a supporting frame.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with the preceding object in which the buoyant member includes at least one foam member fitted to a perimeter of the frame.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with the preceding object in which the supporting frame of the float includes a generally annular rim with an open center spanned by a cross piece or bridge having a sealing member to close the liquid flow channel in the nozzle, the buoyant member including a foam ring that fits around the annular rim of the frame.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with the preceding objects in which the foam ring is made of a closed cell foam that does not absorb fluid.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with the preceding objects in which the ring is made of a non-fluid absorbing foam such as closed-cell Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) type foam, expanded polystyrene foam, expanded polyethylene foam and the like.
A yet further object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with the preceding objects in which the foam/frame float is lighter in weight and higher in buoyancy than molded plastic floats and therefore can be smaller in size while retaining good nectar flow control characteristics in use.
A still further object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with the preceding objects in which the foam/frame float is easy to manufacture with the foam ring being pushed onto the rim of the frame with an interference fit.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with at least one of the preceding objects in which the frame includes one or more flexible clip elements that engage with or are adjacent to a lower surface of the foam ring to further secure the foam ring against vertical movement relative to the frame.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a hummingbird feeder in accordance with the preceding objects having components that can be economically manufactured from readily available and known materials and that can be easily assembled and disassembled for easy cleaning while being sturdy and long lasting in operation and use.
These and other objects of the invention, as well as many of the intended advantages thereof, will become more readily apparent when reference is made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
It is to be understood that the embodiment described herein is disclosed by way of illustration only. It is not intended that the invention be limited in its scope to the details of construction and arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. Also, in describing a preferred embodiments, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. It is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.
A float valve style hummingbird feeder in accordance with the present invention is shown in
The feeding basin 14 includes a base 62 and a removable cover 60. The base has a bottom 76 and an upwardly directed outer wall 77. The cover 60 is preferably dome-shaped, with a central opening 64 at the upper end of the dome and a downwardly directed outer wall 65 having a plurality of feed ports 33 fitted with artificial flower assemblies 43. The lower edge of the cover outer wall 65 is configured to form a sealing connection with the upper edge of the base outer wall 77 when the basin is assembled. The central opening 64 in the cover 60 receives the bottleneck extension 26 and the bottom 76 of the base 62 is provided with a guide structure generally designated by reference numeral 34, the guide structure having two guide panels 35 that are operative with the bottle seal assembly 30. The guide structure 34 is discussed more fully in the '"'"'743 patent previously incorporated by reference herein.
The bottle seal assembly 30 includes a bottle collar generally designated by reference numeral 22, a bottle seal generally designated by reference numeral 24, and a nozzle member generally designated by reference numeral 52. The bottle collar 22 includes two upper alignment recesses 41 on opposing sides thereof and two lower alignment recesses 50. At the base of each upper alignment recess 41 is a coupling element that engages with coupling elements on the cover 60 to secure the cover to the bottle collar 22 when the feeder is assembled. Detail on these coupling elements is provided in the '"'"'743 patent but, not being directly germane to the invention to which the instant application pertains, is not repeated herein.
The bottle collar 22 has an upper part 81 and a lower part 53 (see
The bottle seal 24 may be configured as a flat ring with a central opening 640, similar to a washer or gasket, and may be made of cork or other compressible material capable of forming a liquid seal when brought into abutment with the lower edge of the bottleneck extension 26, with the nozzle member 52 being positioned below the bottle seal 24 (see
As shown in isolation in
In the embodiment shown, the frame 80 is a molded plastic member having a generally flat upper surface 83 and a downwardly depending wall generally designated by reference numeral 177. The wall 177 is inset from the outer edge of the upper surface 83 to form a lip 87. The inner side 84 of the wall 177 defines a central area, generally designated by reference numeral 60, of the frame. The central area 60 is preferably cylindrical although other shapes could be used provided the central area is able to accommodate the basin collar 22. The outer side of the frame wall 177 defines a rim 88.
Extending across the central area 60 is a cross piece or bridge, generally designated by reference numeral 61, that substantially bisects the central area 60. The bridge 61 has two arms 63 in linear alignment with one another. The arms 63 extend inwardly into the central area 60 and are joined by a center piece 59. The float seal 92 is inset within or otherwise secured to the center piece 59. As shown in
The float seal 92 is positioned in the center piece 59 so as to be directly below the tip of the nozzle 52 when the feeder is assembled (see
The buoyant member 82 of the foam/frame float 90 is preferably an annular foam ring 85 having an inner surface 89 that engages with the frame rim 88 when the ring is mounted on the frame 80 while at least part of the upper surface 91 of the ring is captured under the lip 87 (see
To provide the desired buoyancy, the buoyant member is preferably made of a closed-cell Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) type foam which is not capable of fluid absorption. Other closed-cell foams may also be used such as expanded polystyrene foam, expanded polyethylene foam, and the like. A foam ring 85 made of one of these types of foam is lighter in weight and has a higher buoyancy than floats made of molded plastic. As a result, the foam/frame float can be smaller in size to accommodate a wider range of feeder designs while retaining effective nectar flow control characteristics. Further, since the foam ring may be simply pushed together with the frame to have an interference fit, the foam/frame float is easier and less expensive to manufacture than plastic floats which typically include two halves that are ultrasonically welded to one another.
To further secure the foam ring in the desired position on the frame, the frame may be configured to include one or more clip elements, generally designated by reference numeral 93, as shown in
While a preferred embodiment of the foam/frame float as shown herein includes a frame surrounded by an annular foam ring, the foam/frame float could have multiple configurations. For example, the buoyant member may include a plurality of foam members affixed to or otherwise mounted on the frame, such as by an interference fit. For example, the frame could be configured to include a plurality of outwardly directed arms with each arm having a foam member secured thereon, or the frame could include cutouts into which foam members are inserted. Therefore, the present invention is intended to include any combination of a frame and at least one buoyant member mounted to the frame, the buoyant member preferably being mounted on the perimeter of the frame or on an outer edge part of the frame or on an outwardly extending part of the frame, according to the shape of the frame.
To assemble the float portion of the feeder 10, the float valve 32 is positioned within the feeding basin 14 with the outer perimeter wall 98 of the ring 85 facing the inner surface of the base outer wall 77, the inner side 84 of the wall 177 surrounding the guide structure 34, and the bridge 61 extending between the guide panels 35 as shown in
With the float in place, the bottle seal assembly is then received within the basin by aligning the slot 46 in the bottle collar lower part 53 with the arms 63 of the bridge in the central area of the float, and engaging the lower alignment recesses 50 with the guide panels 35 of the guide structure 34 as shown in
Before the feeder is filled with nectar, or when the nectar level is low, the lower surface of the ring 85 rests on, or is near, the bottom of the feeding basin base 62 (see
In the “full” position, the float seal 92 comes into sealing engagement with the tip of the nozzle 52. With the nozzle tip seated in the float seal, the float seal closes or plugs the central channel in the nozzle 52 to prevent further flow of nectar into the feeding basin through the central channel, thus allowing the remainder of the container to be filled as desired. Thereafter, the container can be topped off and/or refilled at any time, as needed, by opening the top thereof and adding additional liquid. The upward pressure of the float valve 32 against the tip of the nozzle 52 once the basin is full keeps too much liquid nectar from entering the basin and overflowing therefrom.
As the feeder is thereafter used by feeding birds, the level of nectar in the basin will drop. Since the float valve 32 rises and falls with the nectar level, the lowering of the nectar creates a space between the tip of the nozzle 52 and the float seal 92, once again allowing liquid to flow from the container 12 into the basin 14 through the central channel in the nozzle until the basin is again filled, at which time the accompanying rise in the float closes the nozzle channel with the float seal. In this way, the feeder basin is continually refilled by the quantity of liquid in the container.
The foregoing descriptions and drawings should be considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. The invention may be configured in a variety of shapes and sizes and is not limited by the dimensions of the preferred embodiment. Numerous applications of the present invention will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, it is not desired to limit the invention to the specific examples disclosed or the exact construction and operation shown and described. Rather, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.