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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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.


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


  1. Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan.
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  3. Bring to a boil. This will help kill any bacteria or mold. Then remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  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!
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October 17, 2011

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).

Comment Was this helpful? 8

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.

Comment Was this helpful? 4

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

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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.

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

By amberwolfone@gmail.com from southern Ontario, Canada


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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April 25, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

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September 6, 2013

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

By D

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August 29, 2011

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.


August 29, 20110 found this helpful

If you are using sugar, it could be that the sugar is being caramelized. I have a glass top stove, and mine using an on/off cycle to cook. The important question is; do the hummers like it? Have you tasted it yourself? If it tastes OK to you and hummers are drinking it, I wouldn't worry.

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June 16, 2012

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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August 7, 2011

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

By Betty


August 8, 20110 found this helpful

It can be; and it is not necessary. Save your food color, all you need is sugar and water! Four parts water to one part sugar.


It is best if you can wash your feeder every night, let it dry, refill and put it out again; helps to keep the molds and fungi at bay (which can be harmful to the birds).

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August 8, 20110 found this helpful

Ditto Jilson. I make my mix stronger, 2 cups of water to 1 cup sugar. They like it better. This is the time of year when they will start to fatten for their long trip south. If you watch them at the feeder, you can see them gain weight. It starts as a lump near the tail and then fills in up their backs. There will come a day when they will come in to feed heavily, fly up in a circle and head south. Males leave first, then the females and then the young so keep your feeder up until well after you are sure they are all gone.

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September 14, 2007

Does diluted pancake syrup make ok hummingbird food?


September 14, 20070 found this helpful

I would say no, only for the reason that it's full of preservatives and such. I do know that Hummingbird "food" is sold in the stores, WalMart and such.

Here is a recipe I found on-line, sounds a lot like the one my Grandmother used to use, but at that time they used the red food dye (it also helped us kids, we knew not to drink the bright red drink in the fridge!).
Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

1 part sugar/4 parts water

Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.

Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use.

Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.

You will need to clean your feeder every few days, with hot water and a mild (10%) bleach solution to inhibit mold. Rinse thoroughly before refilling with water syrup.

Hope that helps.

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By Rasta (Guest Post)
September 19, 20070 found this helpful

Michawnpita is correct. This is the recipe that I have used for many years. I boil the water for it gets the chlorine out and any impurities. Do not add color for it is bad for them. Do a Google on hummingbirds and it will tell you. We love watching the sweet little birds. They are outside if our slidding glass door and we watch them while sitting at our dining room table.

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By Linda (Guest Post)
September 19, 20070 found this helpful

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

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By Kate (Guest Post)
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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June 24, 2013

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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February 27, 2013

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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May 23, 2011

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

By Bridgitte J


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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May 31, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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May 25, 2012

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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September 20, 2016

This is a page 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.

Hummingbird on a red hummingbird feeder

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August 3, 2014

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

white throated mountain gem hummingbird

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