Homemade Hummingbird Food Recipes

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.
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June 2, 2016 Flag

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.

Supplies:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • sauce pan
  • stove
  • clean bottle (for storing leftovers)
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Steps:

  1. Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil. This will help kill any bacteria or mold. Then remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
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  4. Fill your feeder with hummingbird food and store the leftover food in the refrigerator. Note: I recommend labeling your storage container to avoid confusion as to what it is. My son poured a huge glass of it, thinking it was cold water. :)
  5. Hang up the feeder and enjoy your tiny feathered friends!
  6. Related Content(article continues below)
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June 4, 20160 found this helpful

I didn't realize making hummingbird food was so simple. Thank you. I will make some and place it near the Lobelia Cardinalis I have growing to attract hummingbirds. When the Lobelia blooms, I should get some good pictures for ThriftyFun with this double whammy!

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7 found this helpful
October 17, 2011 Flag

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

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October 18, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with the ratio of sugar to water. However, if you have chlorine in your drinking water, you should boil it first. Chlorine is a terrible poison. If you are on a well, cold water is best since it contains fewer accumulated minerals than your hot.

Warm the water to room temperature if you wish in a clean, No Detergent residual container. Stirring for a while at room temperature is best. Any food coloring is harmful to the birds. They can see the clear solution level just fine. For their protein requirements, they pick tiny gnats out of the air, among other small insects on plants.

Personal observations and experiments over 30 years are my qualifications. Please remember the migrants that will visit, hopefully, so keep your feeders 1/2 full & clean (no soap), until you haven't seen one in a week or two. I have year around hummers, Anna's.

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4 found this helpful
October 16, 2011 Flag

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.

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September 20, 2016 Flag

Hummingbird on a red hummingbird feeder

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This is a guide about canning homemade hummingbird food. One way to have homemade hummingbird nectar on hand whenever you need it, is to make large batches and can it.

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July 18, 2014 Flag

This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

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0 found this helpful
August 3, 2014 Flag

white throated mountain gem hummingbird

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This is a guide about feeding hummingbirds. These beautiful birds enjoy a liquid feeder. Most red flowers will invite hummers to your garden.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
April 18, 2011 Flag

Is it OK to substitute stevia for sugar in hummingbird nectar?

By Amber from southern Ontario, Canada

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April 18, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

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April 25, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

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1 found this helpful
September 6, 2013 Flag

How much sugar do I add to 2ltrs of water to feed my hummingbirds?

By D

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September 9, 20130 found this helpful

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!

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September 3, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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June 16, 2012 Flag

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

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June 18, 20120 found this helpful

4 cups water to 1 cup sugar is correct.

No need to add red food coloring. Some "birders" say that if it isn't good for humans,why should we give it to birds? I agree. The bird feeders usually have a red base anyway.

We have 4 feeders 3 in our yard and one just outside the wall to the Path Garden. We have 3-4 butterfly bushes and a couple of cape honeysuckle bushes near by. This week a young father and his child said he counted 9 hummers at the garden feeder.

We also have a couple of orioles that sneak a drink from them. Just be sure to check for mold during the week. GG Vi

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June 20, 20120 found this helpful

It's like everyone saying 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Thanks, 'Cookie"

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August 29, 2011 Flag

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.

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August 31, 20110 found this helpful

Thanks for the homemade Humming Bird Recipe. It sure beats buying it. Can you put red food coloring in it to make it look like the store bought kind? : )

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August 31, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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August 7, 2011 Flag

Is using red food coloring in homemade nectar harmful to the hummingbirds?

By Betty

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August 13, 20110 found this helpful

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!

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August 13, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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June 24, 2013 Flag

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?

By Christina

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June 26, 20130 found this helpful

I have always used 4 parts water to 1 part sugar (white only). Also it's not necessary to use any food coloring as the feeder will attract the hummers as well as any flowers nearby.

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July 1, 20130 found this helpful

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.

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February 27, 2013 Flag

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?

By Deborah

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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

Necter should be changed every 3-4 days, sometimes more frequently in the heat/humidity of the summer.

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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

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 :)

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May 23, 2011 Flag

Is is OK to substitute brown sugar for white sugar in nectar?

By Bridgitte J

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May 23, 20110 found this helpful

Brown sugar contains molasses, whereas white sugar doesn't. I would stick with white sugar only.

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May 23, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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September 14, 2007 Flag

Does diluted pancake syrup make ok hummingbird food?

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September 19, 20070 found this helpful

NO! Use only a mixture of sugar and water as given above.

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September 19, 20070 found this helpful

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.

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May 25, 2012 Flag

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.

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June 22, 20120 found this helpful

The sugar may not be completely dissolved or there may be air bubbles in the water. Let it cool and then see if it turns clear.

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April 18, 2011 Flag

What happens if you put too much sugar in the water to make the nectar? Can it harm the birds?

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August 21, 2010 Flag

With regards to the hummingbird feeders they say no red dye, do they mean red food coloring?

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