There’s something magical about watching hummingbirds dart and hover around the garden, their tiny wings a blur as they flit from flower to flower.
But did you know that you can attract these charming creatures to your backyard by making your hummingbird food?
Making homemade food for hummingbirds is not only cheaper than using store-bought pre-made food, but this is also a fun DIY project.
In addition, this is a fantastic way to provide a valuable food source for these tiny birds.
Our son gets so excited about hummingbirds and also making stuff. So we researched how to make the best hummingbird nectar are wrote this article to share what worked.
This article will provide detailed guidelines for the best hummingbird nectar recipe, your desired ingredients, and ways to attract them.
Table of Contents
Gathering Your Ingredients
To make your homemade hummingbird food, you only need two simple ingredients: white granulated sugar and water.
You must remember that it is essential to stick to white sugar, as it closely mimics the natural nectar that hummingbirds feed on.
Meanwhile, other types of sugar, like brown sugar, raw sugar, or cane sugar, can contain molasses or other components that are harmful to birds.
You must also avoid artificial sweeteners and corn syrup, as they don’t provide the essential calories these tiny creatures need.
To prepare this homemade hummingbird food recipe, you will need the the following:
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 4 cups of water
Now follow these instructions:
Preparing the Nectar
You can make your own hummingbird nectar at home by simply following these steps:
Step 1: Measure Your Ingredients
For the hummingbird nectar recipe, the ratio is straightforward: four parts water to one part sugar. This ratio closely mimics the concentration of natural flower nectar.
Step 2: Dissolve the Sugar
Pour the water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Add the sugar gradually, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves completely.
Boiling the sugar water helps the sugar dissolve and can help kill off any potential bacteria or yeast that could harm the birds.
Step 3: Cooling the Nectar
Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the mixture from heat and let it cool down. It is crucial to wait until the nectar is completely cooled before filling your hummingbird feeder.
This will help you avoid potentially damaging the feeder or harming the birds.
Storing Your Homemade Hummingbird Nectar
If you’ve made more hummingbird food than you need right away, you can store the excess in the refrigerator for up to a week.
However, you must remember to keep the nectar fresh. So if it appears cloudy or you see mold, discard it immediately.
Filling Your Hummingbird Feeders
Hummingbird feeders come in all shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose – to provide hummingbirds with a reliable food source.
Check that the hummingbird feeder is clean when you fill it up. Also, make sure it is free of any old nectar or mold.
Cleaning the feeders between each refill is best to prevent bacterial contamination. We need to clean ours!
You should also replace the hummingbird food every few days or daily in hot weather, even if the feeder isn’t empty, to ensure it stays fresh and safe for the birds.
Homemade Hummingbird Food Recipe
- 1 Hummingbird Feeder
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 cups tap water
- For the hummingbird nectar recipe, the ratio is straightforward: four parts water to one part sugar. This ratio closely mimics the concentration of natural flower nectar.
- Pour the water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Add the sugar gradually, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the mixture from heat and let it cool down. It is crucial to wait until the nectar is completely cooled before filling your hummingbird feeder.
The Science Behind the Recipe
Although this hummingbird food recipe is seemingly very simple, it has a scientific reason behind it.
Although hummingbirds are one of the world’s smallest species of aves, they flap their wings the fastest, counting up to 50 wingbeats per second. While it is a wondrous sight, it costs these tiny birds a lot of calories.
Hummingbirds feed on flower nectar, which is high in sugar. These birds have a high metabolic rate and must be fed every 10-15 minutes just to survive. These birds consume about half their body weight.
Furthermore, they search out 1,000-2,000 flowers for their nectar daily, as this sugar provides the high energy the hummingbirds need for their active lifestyle.
This recipe for homemade food for hummingbirds replicates flower nectar and makes the food search a little easier for these birds.
The Importance of Avoiding Certain Ingredients
You might get tempted to make additions to the recipe or use different kinds of ingredients. Don’t do it.
Using different kinds of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and food coloring are unnecessary steps that can harm the birds.
Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Feeders
Once you have prepared food, your next task is to attract hummingbirds to the feeders.
Setting up your feeders near flowering plants is ideal for attracting more hummingbirds, so they keep coming back for more.
Using a red feeder or adding a red ribbon to the feeder is a great way to grab their attention, as hummingbirds are attracted to red.
If you enjoy watching these tiny birds whooshing around, you can set up the feeders in clear view and sit outside.
Homemade vs. Premade Hummingbird Food
When it comes to feeding hummingbirds, one question often arises: Is it better to make homemade hummingbird food or buy pre-made mixtures? Here is how both options compare:
Homemade Hummingbird Food
The most significant advantage of homemade hummingbird food is controlling the ingredients.
All you have to do is follow a simple recipe that closely mimics the nectar in flowers that hummingbirds naturally feed on.
Some benefits of homemade food include:
- Cost-effective: Making hummingbird food can be cheaper than buying premade mixes, especially since sugar and water are usually readily available.
- No additives or preservatives: Some commercial mixes may contain additives or preservatives that might not suit hummingbirds. When making it yourself, you ensure that only natural ingredients are used.
Premade Hummingbird Food
On the other hand, premade hummingbird food is about convenience. These mixtures come in liquid or powder form and are typically easy to use. Usually, you just have to pour or mix it with water.
The advantages of premade food are:
- Convenience: If you need more time or resources to make your own hummingbird food, premade mixtures offer a hassle-free alternative.
The problem is that premade mixtures may contain preservatives to prolong shelf life.
Some mixes also contain added vitamins and minerals marketed as beneficial to the birds, but the actual necessity and safety of these additives are debated among experts.
Ultimately, the best choice depends on your specific circumstances. If you have the time and resources, homemade hummingbird food is a great, natural, and inexpensive option.
But if you need something more convenient, clear premade mixtures can also be suitable.
Remember, the key is to keep your feeders clean and provide fresh nectar, whether homemade or store-bought.
Why Aren’t Hummingbirds Drinking from my Feeder
Hummingbirds might not be drinking from your feeder for several possible reasons. It can be related to the cleanliness of the feeders.
Hummingbirds prefer clean feeders, as they can be susceptible to fungal infections from dirty feeders that contain old, fermented sugar water.
Clean your feeder thoroughly and regularly. We keep our hummingbird feeder in an easy to get to place so we can fill and clean it easier.
An incorrect nectar solution can also be the cause. A ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water is recommended.
Avoid using honey, artificial sweeteners, or red dye.
The feeder might be where the birds feel unsafe.
If the feeder is too close to busy areas, too exposed, or near pets or nesting sites of other birds, hummingbirds are not likely to come. Moving the feeder to a quieter, more sheltered location might help.
Furthermore, hummingbirds are attracted to red and bright-colored feeders. If your feeder is a different color, that could be the issue.
On the other hand, if many natural food sources are available, like flowering plants, hummingbirds might prefer them over the feeder.
Another major factor to consider is the migration season. Depending on the time of year, hummingbirds might be migrating, which can affect their feeding patterns.
Adjust these factors to see if the hummingbirds start using your feeder.
When Should I Put Out MY Hummingbird Feeder?
Hummingbirds migrate with the seasons, so when you put out a hummingbird feeder depends on where you live.
For those who live in southern parts of the States, you can set up feeders from February through November.
Across the middle of the country, plan on placing feeders from April through October. Along the northern states in the U.S., put hummingbird feeders out from early May through September.
What plants Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds love flowers that are brightly colored and produce lots of nectar, including bee balm, trumpet honeysuckle, and bleeding hearts. They also really like red tubular flowers.
Where Is The Best Place To Hang A Hummingbird Feeder?
The ideal position for a hummingbird feeder is where it receives partial sunlight. Excess sunlight can cause the feeder’s contents to spoil quickly.
The location should be visible to you yet make the hummingbirds feel safe.
They prefer not being completely exposed, so positioning the feeder under the semi-shade of a tree or bush, or hanging it from a canopy or your home would work well.
Frequently Asked Questions
White granulated sugar is the safest for hummingbirds, resembling natural nectar. Raw sugar, cane sugar, or brown sugar contain levels of iron that could be harmful to hummingbirds if consumed over time.
During hot weather, you should change the food every two days. However, in cooler weather, change it every four to five days. If the food appears cloudy or moldy, change it immediately.
It can take time for hummingbirds to discover a new food source. Ensure your feeder is in a quiet, sheltered location. You can also place the feeder near flowering plants to attract hummingbirds.
Using red feeders and painting the plant pots red can also help catch the hummingbird’s attention.
No, when diluted with water, honey can ferment rapidly, which can be harmful to hummingbirds. It can also develop a fungus that’s potentially lethal to them.
Artificial sweeteners provide no nutritional value for the hummingbirds.
Yes, boiling the sugar water for hummingbirds is recommended. The reason for this is to help dissolve the sugar more effectively and to kill any potential bacteria or fungi that might be in the water or sugar.
After boiling, allow the solution to cool before filling the feeder.
Hummingbird feeders should be placed in a location that gets a mix of sun and shade throughout the day. A bit of sun can help attract hummingbirds as it makes the feeder more visible and causes the nectar to glisten, drawing them in.
Too much direct sunlight can cause the nectar to spoil or ferment quickly, which isn’t healthy for hummingbirds.
Similarly, a feeder in a shady spot will keep the nectar fresher for longer, but hummingbirds might not easily find it if it’s too hidden. Therefore, a balance of sun and shade is ideal.
Keeping your hummingbird feeder clean is crucial to the health of the visiting hummingbirds. You must clean your hummingbird feeder at least once a week, or more often in hot weather. Sugar water can quickly become moldy or ferment, which is harmful to birds.
Disassemble the feeder and rinse each part with warm water.
Avoid using soap or detergent, as it may leave a residue that can harm hummingbirds. Also, use a bottle brush or a special hummingbird feeder brush to remove any residue or mold. If your feeder has small holes, you might need a small brush or toothpick to clean them.
For every few cleanings, consider sterilizing the feeder by boiling it in water for a few minutes, soaking it in one part white vinegar to four parts water, and then rinsing thoroughly.
While cleaning, look for any damage to the feeder that could harm the birds or let in pests. If you find any, replace the feeder.
Avoid adding red food coloring to hummingbird food. It’s not proven safe for them and could be harmful. The feeder’s color usually attracts hummingbirds. Opt for plain, undyed nectar instead.
A hummingbird can get digestive issues if they consistently feed off of sugar-water way over the 1:4 ratio. Usually they won’t return if its too high of a concentrate like 1:1, but it varies. Definitely make sure to stick to the 1:4 from now on and make sure they’re changed every few days especially in warmer weather.
As long as your tap water is safe for human consumption, then it is safe for the hummingbirds to drink too. You don’t need to buy any special type of water for them.
You can boil or heat up the water to help the sugar dissolve, just let it cool down to room temperature before feeding it to the birds.
Hummingbirds are frequently observed visiting feeders to consume nectar during the early morning or late evening hours.
Conclusion: This Hummingbird Food Recipe Works
Making your own hummingbird food is a simple and rewarding process. We do it, and it works.
Not only do you get to watch these beautiful creatures up close, but you also provide a valuable food source that helps support their rapid metabolism.
The best hummingbird food recipe is simple: four parts water, one part white granulated sugar. With this homemade nectar in your feeders, you’ll be attracting hummingbirds in no time.
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Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.