If you are like we are, we have several hummingbird feeders around our yard. Yes, you can buy the hummingbird food, but this get costly and there is not much in the packages. I labeled a pitcher to keep in the refrigerator with "homemade hummingbird food". This is so much cheaper than the purchased kind.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil and stir in 1 cup sugar. Stir to dissolve. When cool, pour into the pitcher and refrigerate until needed. As I refill the feeders, I make another batch for the next time. You do not need to add food coloring. In fact, I understand it is not good for the little hummingbirds.
By Jodi from Gary, TX
We have lots of hummingbirds. I start off the season with a 1 sugar to 4 water, boiled a few minutes to make sure the sugar has changed. Never use honey. Later on, I go to a 1 to 5 ratio as it is closest to nature's syrup in flowers. Aren't they amazing little birds? I just love them. (03/19/2007)
It is "not" okay to use a red dye in hummingbird food just because it is FDA approved. Red dye is cancer causing, especially if a lot of it is used and very often. Think of a hummingbird's size. Just a little bit of the red dye will overpower the little bird's liver.
Please do not use red dye.
Aimee, Master Herbalist student (07/09/2007)
I have always, always been told and read that hummingbird food mixture is 4 to 1. That would be 1C of water to 1/4 cup of sugar. For larger amounts 4 to 1 could mean 4C of water to 1C sugar. Too much sugar kills and/or rots their beaks. (04/09/2008)
By Marigold Mama
I would think that even using just plain sugar without the color would be detrimental to the health of hummingbirds. I contains none of the trace minerals and vitamins that natural nectar contains. So, wouldn't it be better to use a pre-made mix? I want to attract hummingbirds, not kill them. (04/18/2008)
Last year, I didn't boil my water and it didn't seem to cause any issues. However I read that the reason you boil the water is to reduce the amount of chlorine which is harmful to hummingbirds. I am going to start boiling it this year as our water is very chlorinated. (04/22/2008)
I read this on Wikipedia:
Other things to avoid using in feeders include artificial sweeteners and non-nutritive sweeteners such as saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and stevia. Though hummingbirds might drink feeder solutions containing these sugar substitutes, they will be starved of the calories they need to sustain their metabolism.
So I would suggest sticking to plain white sugar, or better yet plant a hummingbird friendly garden. If your friend wants the hummers near a window how about a hanging basket full of fuchsias? (05/01/2008)
No red dye, buy a red feeder.
I have used for years the 4 to 1 and it works great. I put a little bit of red Kool Aid in my water to color it and it seems to work fine.
I so love to watch these little birds they are great and fun to watch. (05/29/2008)
Obviously you don't need dyes, And the FDA will tell you just about anything. Then recant their statement and say its gonna kill you. Like everyone has said either boil the water to extract chlorine or let stand 24 hrs that's what I do. And no red dyes. (05/29/2008)
I ran across this pretty quickly doing a search to see what is recommended about replacing some of the sugar with corn syrup. I haven't found a credible answer yet, but some postings here concern me.
Do not use food coloring. Even if the jury is still out about the effect on the birds, it does absolutely nothing to make them want to use the feeder or the food you make. Why risk it?
Boiling the water is not optional. It either needs done or it doesn't depending on your supply.
It is unneeded to dissolve the small concentration of sugar. But if there is danger of pathogens or mold it must be done. Know your water and know your sugar. Boiling flashes off chlorine, which may or may not be harmful, but many other chemicals can be concentrated by boiling. This danger is real for you as well as the birds you like to watch. As a rule well water should be safe. (07/17/2008)
By Ray the hummer watcher
I use the same formula, but without the red I do not attract the birds. But by mixing the juices of strawberries and raspberries to the mixture they have been coming in droves. A pleasure to watch. (08/04/2008)
By Michel Emond
The red water makes absolutely no difference. We have always used plain unboiled water and white sugar. Just a reminder, the sugar water is for energy only, they get their nutrition other ways. Also, I've noticed that our feeders with perches are most more popular. They don't expend precious energy hovering and tend to hang around the feeder a few extra seconds. (08/19/2008)
I don't know if it hurts them or not, but I do know that it makes a difference with or without the red coloring. I ran an experiment by placing one with on one side of my yard, and one without on the other and then switched them the next day. They fought over the one with the red coloring, and hardly a one came to the one without. I'm not for or against the coloring, just stating a fact. Try it for yourself. By the way, it was purchased mix at Walmart. I didn't put the food coloring in myself. (09/09/2008)
Everyone seems to have what they say works for them when in reality, no one really knows the long term effects of natural sugar, unboiled water or red food color. Why not try the original idea? Buy hummingbird food from the store. Yes, it costs more than if you make it yourself, but stores have used it for years and years. It has already been tested and proven. (09/29/2008)
Two years ago we began feeding hummingbirds. We used the store bought red stuff. I sat out every afternoon and evening and didn't see any hummingbirds. My hubby told me to give up we don't have any here. I said no. I want to see one. I can't give up yet. So every 3 days I put out new nectar and washed the feeders. Then I ran out, so I found the recipe to make my own on the internet.
And I'm telling you after 10 minutes of the clear nectar being in there I saw my first hummer. I was so excited I couldn't breathe. When it left I called in to tell my husband and I could barely speak. I have made my own ever since.
Check out this site and bookmark it; a live close up hummingbird nest. I think this is last clutch of the season. I have watched her for 2 years. This nest is in California.
I am just starting the hummingbird feeder in the back yard. I used to feed them 50 years ago and didn't remember the recipe. We always used the red dye. I consulted this web site to gain the sugar water ratio and learned its no longer acceptable to use the dye. I wanted to attract the birds so I added beet juice and got wonderful red color. Once the birds are established with the feeder I can stop the beet juice. (08/09/2009)
Be sure to use non-chlorinated, non-fluoridated water to make the solution. These water additives aren't good for wildlife (plants or animals). (08/18/2009)
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