Hummingbird food can go bad quickly. So it is important to change it often. Store bought foods can be expensive and contain dyes that are not good for birds. This page contains homemade hummingbird food recipes.
Making your own hummingbird food is easy and much cheaper than buying the concentrate. Plus you can make it without the red dye, as it is generally unnecessary for attracting hummingbirds to your feeder.
Is it OK to substitute stevia for sugar in hummingbird nectar?
By Amber from southern Ontario, Canada
No! Stevia is a sweetener for couch potatoes who can't resist sweets; it has almost no calorie value for hummingbirds, who work and need energy. Even greener stevia is close to calorie-free.
And yes, avoid the 'safe' food colors. Color the feeder.
No. What is this latest " let me feed some phony stuff to the hummers. I'd love to fool them"? Hummers need sugar water. Always have, always will. If they have flowers for nectar they prefer them. In the season when they cannot get enough nectar, we help them to survive with sugar water. Please be kind and feed what is needed.
After attending several lectures by the Hummingbird Bird expert in Christoval, TX (that feeds 3 1/2 gallons of food per day), I have learned some helpful information regarding feeding hummers. The mixture is 3 parts water to 1 part sugar. There is no need to boil the water, just use hot water, mix and stir. Add a tiny drop of red food coloring (so you can see when it is empty).
Do not remove feeders in fall, as the passing through hummers are looking for food. They will leave when they are ready and should. In hot weather, the food spoils quickly.
By jbennett from San Angelo, TX
Is it OK to home can hummingbird food? It would be in sterile jars and lids. Then it would be processed in a water bath for 10 minutes. Would this change the nectar in anyway? Thanks in advance for any help.
Error-The correct ratio of water to sugar is 4:1.
I think it would be fine. It would be just like canning fruit, except no fruit in the jars, just sugar syrup.
How much sugar do I add to 2ltrs of water to feed my hummingbirds?
Ditto on the above - 1 cup (white) sugar to 4 cups water. I don't even boil the water - just stir til the sugar dissolves. I keep any extra in the fridge and let sit a bit before I put it out to take the chill out of it - Although nowadays the hummers would probably appreciate a bit of a chill. Good luck!
There are two suggested ratios given: 1 part sugar to 3 parts water, or 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Since you're using 2 liters (or "Litres") of water, then you would either add: 1/2 (.5) liter of sugar (for the 1:4 ratio) *or* 2/3rds (.666) liter of sugar (for the 1:3 ratio.)
Apparently no one else realized you were on Metric, but the math should have translated just the same.
Some friends are using a mixture (of what I call harmful) of 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. This does really attract the birds, but I know that it must be very harmful for the birds. Am I correct?
By Joan from Signal Mtn., TN
It's like everyone saying 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Thanks, 'Cookie"
For warm weather 4 parts water to 1 part sugar is proper mix...for those of us who get hummingbirds in cold weather winters...( Vancouver B.C. down to -10 Celsius on occasion) ... then 3 parts water to 1 part sugar is good. A more sugary mix than that is harmful to a hummingbirds kidneys. And once a hummingbird chooses your winter feeder you really are responsible for its survival by keeping the feeder ice free and back outside before first morning light. They need to feed every 15 or 20 minutes at least. Rotate your feeders every hour or two to keep from freezing.
When making hummingbird nectar at home, my solution turns golden before it comes to a boil. Is it being burned? I used medium-high heat and it takes forever to come to a boil (electric ceramic stovetop). Any suggestions?
By Mary D.
Correction: Humming Bird Nectar Recipe. Boy,I got a Good Laugh at myself when I realized what I wrote & posted the 1st time. No I don't eat humming birds! LOL.
Making humming bird nectar is so easy. I cup of water to 1/4 cup of sugar. Just add the sugar to hot water and stir. Let it cool and put in feeder.
I have always used one part sugar to four parts water and it works for me. Clean out your feeder every time you change the food and you will eventually get hummingbirds. Some suggest boiling the water and then adding the sugar, but I find it is not necessary. I just use the hottest tap water and add the sugar and it works just as well.
By Elaine S. from Near Cedar Rapids, IA
On the nectar you buy in the store, the package directions say 3 parts water to 1 part water. What are they meaning? 3 cups water to 1 cup of nectar? Please help me clarify this. I'm not sure what that means? Can anyone help asap?
Whenever you see the words 'part to parts, it means measures, for example as you wrote, three cups to one cup (or 3 parts to 1 part). As another reply noted, it's often written as 1:1, 1:3, 3:1, etc.
Another way to think of it is that if you use 1 part and the measure you've chosen to use is a full cup, you need to follow the directions for your other parts as being cups also.
The measure can be anything, tea or tablespoons, litres, gallons, quarter cup, half cup, full cup, and so on.
For example, when I make up a vinegar and water solution to clean kitchen in bathroom I use a one to one parts ratio (1:1) and I decide the size or volume of my measure according to the amount of cleaning solution I want to make up.
If I'm filling a spray bottle, I use a half cup of vinegar to a half cup of water; if I'm mixing up a larger amount I adjust upwards in measurement-one full cup to one full cup for a small basin, pints and sometimes even gallons to fill a bucket.
The important thing to remember is that the word 'part' and 'parts' means nothing more than measures.
The typical recommendation for making hummingbird nectar, and one I use regularly is this.
For every quart of water (part,) you will need one cup (8 oz.) of water. The best way to make nectar is by boiling the water, turning the heat off and adding sugar. Stir the sugar so that it dissolves completely. If you want to make it up in bulk so that it will last longer, boil the mixture again after you add the sugar. Just heat it up again until it boils. Refrigerated nectar should be used in a week or less. Change feeders about every 3 to 4 days. if you have plastic feeders, don't use bleach to clean them. Don't put plastic feeders in the dishwasher. Vinegar and warm soapy (dish soap,) water will clean them adequately. A tiny brush will help you clean the feeder ports. Thoroughly clean the feeders before refilling them.
Is using red food coloring in homemade nectar harmful to the hummingbirds?
I agree, and love my hummers! They don't need the red dye. Usually they come to my home in the middle of April for early birds I start putting my feeders out by the first week in April, no red dye but I do add a large red bow to my shepherd's hook for symbolic reasons I think like the song "tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree" ) I sing to my hummers (hehe) it's been one whole year and I do miss thee (hehe)
I read once in Birds n Bloom that the same hummers will come back to your yard every year, anyone else read that? Also I read that hummers can fly 500 miles without stopping, wow, now that's a strong little flyer! :)
@ Chloelizabeths comment: I was thinking the other day about making my mix a little stronger too. I'll try yours after all your only adding a 1/2 cup more and if they didn't like it you can be sure they won't drink it and yours are so thank you that's what I will do with my next batch. I love my hummers and soon will be missing them!
I agree with those who say no red or any color dye. Hummers can see the clear solution. I disagree about the amount of sugar to water ratio. Hummers also need protein they get by catching small flying insects (gnats, etc.). If too much sugar is in the solution, they may not feel the need to catch the nutrients/protein since they have empty calories.
I read this in Birder's Magazine. The recommended ratio is 1/3 cup sugar to 1 cup water. Too much sugar can also lead to other problems. You can go to Wikipedia or a birders web site to confirm this.
My hummingbird nectar (4 parts water to one part sugar) gets moldy after about one week. Am I doing something wrong or is this normal and what can I do to prevent it?
Moldy Hummer feeders and nectar are a real problem and can cause harm to the hummers. Clean feeders with fresh nectar should be hung more frequently. I live in Georgia and we have a lot of heat and humidity ---- both causes for mold. My "rule of thumb" is that when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees, change the feeders and nectar every 3 to 4 days. If your feeder is in direct sun, change it every 2 to 3 days or a little more often. Nectar can be stored in the refrigerator for several days making re-filling more convenient.
It's always good to have a spare feeder/feeders. This will make it easy to have a clean feeder at all times. Once you take down a used feeder, wash it and be ready for the next refill. Happy Humming :)
The sugar/water mixture should be heated until just BELOW boiling. You don't want syrup. I keep my mixture in a glass jar in the refrigerator and only put out enough for one day at a time. That way you don't run the risk of mold and bacteria. Be sure to NOT use soap to clean the feeder, only very hot water. You can add a bit of white vinegar, but be sure to rinse many times. I have always had a hard time convincing my friends to not use soap and they say they rinse it well, but there can still be a minute amount of residue that can harm the hummy.
Is is OK to substitute brown sugar for white sugar in nectar?
By Bridgitte J
Agree with MCW. I have herd of other people asking about substituting white cane sugar in hummingbird feeders and many people say don't do it. Someone asked about using sugar substitutes like Sweet and Low. Others have asked about using honey. The answer is always the same... stick to normal sugar and water at a 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water ratio.
Substitutions of any kind kill. Good white sugar and water only. I use 4 to 1. I have a few that winter over so I use 3 to 1 for winter months. I shine a light on the feeder to keep it from freezing. I adore my hummers. Would never substitute and kill them.
Does diluted pancake syrup make ok hummingbird food?