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.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
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
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
This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
A few drops of red food coloring will tint nectar to attract birds.
Source: My awesome friend Richard Wildermuth
This is a guide about feeding hummingbirds. These beautiful birds enjoy a liquid feeder. Most red flowers will invite hummers to your garden.
Give a "thumbs up" to the solution that worked the best! Do you have a better solution? Click here to share it!
Here are questions related to Homemade Hummingbird Food Recipes.
Is it OK to substitute stevia for sugar in hummingbird nectar?
By Amber from southern Ontario, Canada
I would not do that! The sugar provides calories for energy, and stevia is popular with humans as it is so low calorie. Also, it may not be metabolized safely by the hummers. Stick with ordinary table sugar.
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.
How much sugar do I add to 2ltrs of water to feed my hummingbirds?
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
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.
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.
Is using red food coloring in homemade nectar harmful to the hummingbirds?
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.
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?
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.
Does diluted pancake syrup make ok hummingbird food?
By Kate (Guest Post) 09/19/2007 Flag
An easy way to make hummingbird food: 1 cup water, 1/4 sugar, in a glass measuring cup. Microwave to a boil, and boil until sugar is dissoved. Cool. The ratio is 4 to 1. If this is the first time you've fed hummingbirds at that location, add some red coloring to the mix. Once they become used to looking for the feeder, you won't need to color it anymore.
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.
I think it would be fine. It would be just like canning fruit, except no fruit in the jars, just sugar syrup.
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?
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
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.
Why does my hummingbird food turn cloudy during the cool down time. I've been making it for years with the same sugar and bottled spring water. They don't like city water even after we boiled it. Now it is turning cloudy even before it's cooled. What do I need to change?
By Dan T.
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.
I would like to make my own mix for my hummingbird feeder. I used to know and have forgotten. Any ideas of sugar and water mixture?
barbo37 from Fairview, MI
Homemade Hummingbird Nectar
Mix the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it cool before filling your feeder. Once hummers start coming, decrease the solution to about 1 cup sugar to 8 cups water. Hummingbirds can sometimes suffer a fatal liver disorder if they get too much sugar.
Remember to replace the nectar in your hummingbird feeder every 3 days or so - every other day if temperatures are above 60 degrees. Wash the feeder with soap and scalding hot water, then rinse well before refilling. Old nectar and/or a dirty feeder can host hummingbird bacteria. (05/26/2006)
Never use red food coloring ( or any other color food coloring) It is very bad for the hummingbirds. Some research is being done to see if it causes cancer in the birds, But it can kill them. As long as there is red on the feeder, the food does not need to be red, but if you want it to be then you should buy the mix that they sell in the stores. (05/31/2006)
I just bought a new hummingbird feeder and there is a recipe for you to make your own hummingbird food. It says it is ok to use red food coloring as long as it is FDA approved.
I'm am not sure what is true as I have read different things regarding the safety of food coloring and hummingbirds.
I just wanted to pass that on to you. (05/31/2006)
Please don't use red coloring in hummingbird feeders. Any red on the feeder will attract the birds. The red food coloring is only to satisfy the humans. It will harm the birds. (06/01/2006)
I make all my hummingbird nectar. it is 4 to 1 ratio - 4 cups of water and one cup of sugar, then boil. Add a little red food coloring. I make a batch almost every day. I have dozens of hummingbirds at my feeders everyday!
good luck. (06/01/2006)
We have hummingbirds - there are a few 'regulars' and if I mix 2/3 cup of (warm) water with 1/3 cup of sugar (have used same amount of powered sugar) it seems to disappear in a week. (06/02/2006)
You DO NOT need to boil any water for the mixture. It does dilute in cold water and stirring it. I do this everytime I make the solution. NO PROBLEMS and NO RED DYE! Don't need red. It doesn't bring them to you. As long as you put out feeders and keep them full, you will have tons of hummingbirds. (06/03/2006)
By Beth Jenkins
1 cup sugar to 3 cups of water that has been boiled is what I use and the birds seem to enjoy it. (06/05/2006)
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.
With regards to the hummingbird feeders they say no red dye, do they mean red food coloring?
By Kimberly from Tenmile, OR
Correct! You don't need anything more than sugar and water for the nectar. The feeder's red parts, or a red fake flower or even a piece of ribbon will catch their eye. Once they know the feeder is there, they will happily patronize your little "cafe" with clear nectar. (05/15/2010)
Our feeder came with instructions on making the nectar. 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water. No dye needed. Our feeder is red with little yellow flowers to feed from. Our first hummingbird showed up last week so now is the time to get the feeders out (at least in Tennessee). (05/15/2010)
We usually put one drop of red food color in the first feeder filling for the year. This year we tried something different. I noticed that the mandarin oranges come in a red netting. We used the netting to cover the feeder. We only have the hummers from March until August, but certainly enjoy them while they are here. We have an 8 hole feeder and have had 16 hummers feeding (2 per hole) and a cloud waiting their turn. We have a one quart feeder and fill it nearly every day.
From Corrie on the Olympic Peninsula, WA (05/18/2010)
What happens if you put too much sugar in the water to make the nectar? Can it harm the birds?