Hummingbird Food Recipe a simple easy to follow guide!
Well, it’s no secret that my two favorite summer creatures are fireflies and hummingbirds.
I have loved them ever since I was a little kid. I love to watch the hummingbirds and what I look forward to every mid-April is for one to show up at my doorstep.
And these little beautiful birds always finally do.
A Hummingbird Feeding on Nectar
In the past, I used to feed the little guys with commercial nectar’s every time they paid me a visit.
However, I came to realize that it would be actually healthier and cheaper if I consider making a homemade hummingbird food recipe on my own.
This might seem like a lot of work but it’s quite easy and works like a spell in attracting the hummingbirds.
Going through the ingredients of the store bought hummingbird nectar, you will realize that most of it is actually dye and a lot of preservatives.
The hummingbird doesn’t need any of this. Also, there are the organic hummingbird foods that are available at stores and they contain majorly sugar and water.
This is perfect for the hummingbirds. The only problem is that it’s quite pricey.
But this doesn’t mean that you are entirely stuck with no solution.
Below, I will share with you a homemade hummingbird’s recipe that you can make from the comfort of your home anytime.
The major ingredients here will be natural sucrose made from the top nectar-producing flowers and easily digestible source of calories and energy.
Read on to find out how.
Table of Contents
How to Make Hummingbird Food
The hummingbird nectar features a simple solution of sugar and water.
As simple as it seems, this solution must be made in the right proportion in order to attract the hummingbirds and at the same time to be in a digestible form.
1. A Bowl
2. Refined white sugar 1\4 kg
4. Boiling water
5. A hummingbird feeder
Add the boiling water into the sugar and stir until all the sugar dissolves.
Let the mixture boil for about 4 minutes.
Take the mixture from the heat source and leave it to cool until it gets to the room temperature.
Add to the feeders and wait for the hummingbirds to come.
Can you Use Honey To Make Make A Hummingbird Food Recipe?
The mistake that most people do is to assume that because a certain sweetener is natural it is completely safe.
In our case, honey proves to be fatal to the hummingbirds.
That is because when exposed to heat, honey breaks down quickly then it ferments.
To humans, fermented foods are no big issue but this is not the case for the hummingbirds.
The bacteria present in fermented honey is fatal.
You’ll probably think that the nutrient level in honey is higher than the one in white sugar.
Well, that’s true but hummingbirds won’t pay attention to that.
All they need is adequate sucrose that will provide them with energy to keep flapping their wings.
Hummingbird Food Facts
In other cases, you will find some birders using beet sugar to make the hummingbird nectar.
It’s a good choice only that beet sugar contains GMOs (Genetically modified organisms).
In that case, if you want to make the best nectar for the hummingbirds, just keep it simple.
There is no need for special sugars, white sugar is just fine.
Keep off the Fake Sugars Too!
It is important that everyone understands that to make hummingbird food, all that is needed is white sugar.
There should be no artificial sugars by any chance.
This means that you should not include corn syrup in your nectar solution.
Also, don’t try to play nutritionist for the birds and imagine that low carb. sugars like stevia will be a healthier choice for the hummingbirds.
Again, all that is needed for the homemade hummingbird nectar recipe is the white sugar, water and nothing else.
The low carb sugars have zero calories? This will not be helpful for the birds as they are looking for real sugars that will help boost their high metabolism.
What is the Hummingbird Nectar?
If you ask anyone, they will tell you that nectar is the fluid-like substance that honeybees collect for making honey.
All in all, it can also be described as any sugary fluid that the flowering plants secrete.
This is the substance that encourages bee pollination in most plants.
Hummingbirds are mostly attracted to com fey, blackberry, yellow water iris, and trumpet honeysuckle.
That is because they are very high yielding plants in terms of nectar.
That is why, when making homemade nectar, you need to try your best and mimic the nectar produced by these plants.
Hummingbirds get quick burning carbohydrates from the nectar. And this is what we try to achieve this through the water-sugar combination.
However, you need to know the ratio of sugar to water that’s required to make the ideal nectar in order to achieve similar nutrition content as the natural nectar.
Hummingbird Food Sugar to Water Ratio
Most of the expert birders will recommend a ratio of 1:4 sugar to water when making the hummingbird nectar.
This means that for every one part of sugar, you need to add four parts of water.
However, there are times you may want something with a lower ratio like 1:3 sugar to water.
A 1:4 ratio of the hummingbird food in the feeder will have no issues attracting hummingbirds in your garden.
But if you want to increase the probability of them visiting your home more often, you can lower the ratio to 1:3 sugar to water.
Also, a few weeks before the autumn hits fully, you may want to lower the ratio too.
That moment just before temperatures drop.
This way, the birds will have some fat in stock come winter and late fall.
Important Tips about Hummingbird Food Recipe
⦁ Best Type of Water
When making hummingbird food recipe it is best if you use purified water. This will contribute both to the health of the birds and the quality of nectar that you get. Tap water in most cases contains a lot of minerals that may be harmful to the birds.
In some cases, you can consider boiling the water in order to kill the micro-organisms. However, you should let the water to cool down then add the sugar after it cools. When you boil water, some of it is likely to evaporate hence altering the sugar to water ratio.
When the sugar ratio is too high, the hummingbirds will enjoy without a doubt, but it will also ferment faster. This will, in turn, make the sugar to crystallize and clog the feeding ports. In the end, the hummingbirds will move to another place.
⦁ No Sugar Substitutes
Do not use any substitutes for the white sugar. That is because they could be too heavy for the hummingbirds to digest efficiently.
Also, these substitutes tend to ferment more quickly hence creating a mold that might be fatal for the hummingbirds.
The substitutes actually lack the calories the hummingbirds are looking for in real sugar to boost their energy level. In that case, these substitutes offer no nutritional value to the hummingbirds.
⦁ Not Too Much Heating
Heating the nectar will help to slow down the fermentation of the nectar. However, the nectar gets contaminated as soon as a bird sips.
So, once the sugar dissolves in the water, there’s totally no reason to heat the nectar once again.
As long as you have stirred the solution vigorously no boiling is needed.
⦁ Ensure the Nectar is Cool Before Transferring it to the Feeders
Well, this is a very important point that you need to consider. Ensure that before filling the feeders, the nectar is cool and at room temperature level.
That is because hot nectar will only crack the hummingbird feeders hence causing them to leak. Also, do not use warm nectar as once it gets contaminated it will ferment faster.
⦁ Clean the Feeders and Replace the Nectar Often
It’s necessary that you clean the hummingbird’s nectar feeders at least once a week.
Also, refill the feeders with fresh nectar every 5 days. But if there is a high number of hummingbirds feeding on there, you will have to replace the nectar and clean the feeders more often.
When you leave the nectar there for too long, it may form mold and bacteria which may affect the health state of the birds.
Unused nectar could also be refrigerated for at least one week. However, if you can make the nectar weekly, that’s even better.
This will reduce waste and birds will have fresh nectar.
How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder?
Just as humans, the hummingbirds too need a certain level of cleanliness in their food. Actually, hummingbirds are the pickiest birds I know.
This makes cleaning the feeder a very crucial step if you want them to stick around.
You may not have the time to clean the feeder every day but at least you can do a quick clean every time you replace the nectar.
Rinse the feeder with warm soapy water and scrub away the dirt using a bottle brush.
This will remove all the mold and dirt that might have stuck on the feeder. To clean the feeding ports, you can use the pipe cleaners.
After cleaning, it’s important that you rinse the feeder thoroughly to remove the soap residue.
The soap could be very harmful to the birds if not removed thoroughly.
What About The Red Dye?
Red-dyed Hummingbird Nectar
This is a controversial issue that has been going on for a long time now.
People need to know whether to use red dyes in the hummingbird nectar or not. It’s no secret that hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors especially red.
And for that reason, some of the birders use red dyes to attract the hummingbirds.
Although in the past year’s red dyes were considered toxic and banned, today we have safe dyes that can be consumed by both animals and humans.
However, it’s not necessary to add the dyes in order to attract hummingbirds.
Most of the feeders for hummingbirds found in the market today already have red bases and decorative feeding ports that resemble flowers.
This is a better way to attract the birds than placing the birds at risk with the red dyes.
There are better ways to attract the hummingbirds to the feeder using red. Some of them include: planting red flowers nearby or hanging a red ribbon from the feeder.
This is enough to catch the bird’s attention instead of using unsafe chemicals which may have a negative effect on the birds.
How to Deal with Potential Challenges
In most cases, ants can become a challenge as they might be attracted to the nectar too.
In that case, to deal with the ants you smear a light coat of petroleum jelly on the hanging wire. Thereafter, no ants get through it.
Also, wasps and bees are very likely to be attracted to the hummingbird nectar feeder.
You can use bee guards which look like little cages.
Place the guards at the drinking ports. Since the hummingbird’s beaks are long enough, they will still get to the nectar perfectly well.
Finally, the raccoons can be a nuisance too as well as bears and opossums.
In such cases, you can consider bringing in the feeders inside at night if you feel like this is bound to happen.
As long as you follow all the given instructions in this article, the hummingbirds will love it in your garden.
There will come back every day for more treats. If you have never tried these DIY ways to attract hummingbirds to your garden, its time you give it a try. I’m positive you will love the experience.
In life, it’s the little things that give us joy. For me, nothing could give me greater joy than watching the hummingbirds at my feeders from my porch. This gives me something to look forward to every summer.