Hummingbird Nectar Recipe. How to make homemade hummingbird food. (2022)

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How to Make Hummingbird Food

The Best Hummingbird Nectar Recipe or Best Hummingbird Food Formula is a "sugar and water" ratio of4:1, that is, 4 cups of water to 1 cup sugar.

This 4 to 1 ratio is the "sweet spot" closest to replicating the natural nectar found in hummingbird attracting flowersproven by ornithologists and research scientists.


  • Step 1: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  • Step 2: Add 1 cup of white granulated sugar.
  • Step 3: Stir well until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Step 4: Boil this mixture for 2 minutes to help prevent it from spoiling too rapidly.
  • Step 5: Allow to thoroughly cool.
  • Step 6: Pour into clean hummingbird feeders.
  • Step 7: Use the optional "Hummingbird Feeder Fresh Nectar Defender" which is an all-natural product that protects the freshness of hummingbird nectar and stops spoilage for weeks. It is bird-safe, and works using a micronutrient, copper, naturally consumed by hummingbirds in their diet of nectar and insects.

Very Important Rules for Success and Safety

Please Note: If you have decided to hang feeders, feeding hummingbirds is a commitment and there are 2 VERY IMPORTANT RULES you must follow:

  1. Changing Nectar: You must be vigilant about changing the nectar regularly(every 3 to 5 days) to keep it from spoiling.
    filling instructions.
  2. Cleaning Feeders: You must keep your feeders clean from bacteria which can be harmful to hummingbirds.
    See cleaning instructions.

Self-measuring Hummingbird Nectar Pitcher

Here is a really handy pitcher that we use. No measuring cups required!

"Onceyou use it, you'll NEVER want to mix nectar again without it!"

Purchase the "Nectar Aid" Self-measuring Pitcher

Here are step by step instructions to make hummingbird food with the formula for the sugar to water ratio that you can print.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe. How to make homemade hummingbird food. (2)

For a large selection of Hummingbird Feeders, Accessories and Wind Chimes: Visit Our Store!

Printthis recipe.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe. How to make homemade hummingbird food. (3)

Tips for Making Hummingbird Food

  • Use a larger 4 parts water to 1 part sugar mixture to make a bigger batch of nectar.
  • You can store the unused homemade hummingbird nectar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
  • Do not use honey as this can cause a fatal infection to a hummingbird's tongue.
  • Artificial sweeteners or sugars(organic or not) have no nutritional value. Please don't use them.
  • Red dyes are not necessary and some may be unhealthy or dangerous.
  • Remember to clean your feeder regularly.
  • Change the nectar every 3 to 5 days and more often in hot weather.
  • NOTE: Since this hummingbird food recipe is asugar water mixture, it can quickly ferment in the heat and sun causingbacteria and mold. You will see the nectar turn cloudy when it starts to ferment.
  • ANOTHER NOTE: We receive questions many times over about using raw unprocessed sugar or brown sugar and our opinion is to only use the proven safest product; ordinary white granulated sugar.

We have been using this nectar recipe for years and we have had many hungry birds at our feeders.

We hope your feeders will be as busy with hummingbirds enjoying this delectable treat!

Hummingbird Feeder
Fresh Nectar Defender!

Clean Your Feeders Less Often!

Hummingbird Feeder Fresh Nectar Defender is an all-natural product that protects the freshness of hummingbird nectar and stops spoilage for weeks. It is bird-safe, and works using a micronutrient, copper, naturally consumed by hummingbirds in their diet of nectar and insects.

More Info!

How to Fill Your Hummingbird Feeders

Let’s begin with the many types of hummingbird feeders. Justto get an idea take a look at the variety of feeders we carry in ourHummingbird Store. There are Basic Feeders, Decorative Feeders, Tray feeders, Window feedersand even Unique feeders. They all should come apart for easy cleaning andfilling.

People often ask what size feeder to buy. A large feederdoes not necessarily bring a lot of birds. However, if you live in a locationwith a lot of hummingbirds and do attract many, use a largefeeder that holds more nectar.
Otherwise several smaller feeders will do the trick. The size is importantin regard to the nectar because it is helpful to fill your feederwith an amount of nectar the birds will drink within 3 to 5 days. Otherwise,you will waste nectar. The nectar needs to be fresh and changed every 3 to 5 days.

The consequence of not keeping the nectar fresh is that your hummingbird friends will go elsewhere where there is a 4 star restaurant. We get many emails from our visitors asking why they are not seeing their hummingbirds. Most of the time the reason is that the nectar in their feeders had spoiled.

Do Not Use Red Dyes or Food Coloring! Many people still believe that it is important to add redfood coloring to their nectar recipe. As we have mentioned this practice isunnecessary to attract hummingbirds. A red feeder or a feeder with red feeding ports will suffice. (As you can see in my photo above, this feeder is green with clear glass and red flower feeding ports.) Most researchers and naturalists discredit this practice asharmful to the birds. We want to replicate the nectar found in nature. Since hummingbirds are wild birds, doesn’t thisseem sensible?

Nonetheless, you might become confused by the debating thatcontinues about this practice:

Let’s consider the possible origin of the idea. Hummingbirdshave a high metabolism and don’t we love to watch these little birds zippingabout in speedy flight. On account of this metabolism they do require highlevels of nectar often found in red flowers. So people, in observing them,began to believe that the nectar they made for their feeders should be red. Itis important to know that natural nectar, which is a mixture of sugar, water,and electrolytes, is colorless.

How to Clean Your Feeders

Choose a feeder that is easy to clean since you will be doing this frequently. A feeder that we especially like that is very easy to clean is the Dr.JBs feeder. I did write a review of this feeder with more information and details.

If you prefer a "tray style" feeder another feeder that we especially recommend is the Hummzingerline of Tray feeders. This feeder is also very easy to clean withadded benefits to the photographer. For more details, I also wrote a review on this feeder.

My favorite "window feeder" is the Aspects "Jewel Box" feeder. Its very easy to clean and has 2 options for mounting and installation.
I also did a review on this one.

I clean my feeders at a sink with brushes and a tiny amount of dish soap and water. Rinsing the feeder thoroughly to remove all traces of the soap. If there is a soap residue left behind it could alter the taste of the nectar and repel the hummers.

Another method is to use a water and vinegar solution, about a 4 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar. Again, rinse the solution well and leave no vinegar residue.

If you see mold present in/on your feeders, you need to change your nectar sooner with more frequent cleanings. (I clean my feeders every time I change the nectar to avoid a mold situation. Some clean their feeders at every other nectar change.) To rid the mold, soak the feeders for 1 to 2 hours in a very mild bleach and water solution. A 10 to 1 ratio should be fine. The soaking will kill the mold bacteria and prevent further growth but the discoloring will still be present.
After soaking, clean the feeders thoroughly with brushes.

See Our DetailedInstructions& Tips
How to Clean Hummingbird Feeders

More Information About Hummingbird Food

Another detail about the nectar recipe is thatit can be adapted. This recipe of 1 part sugar to4 parts water is adequate for the spring and summer months. One exception wouldbe when we initially attract the birds. At this time you can make a strongermixture of 1 part sugar to 3 parts water. When our hummingbirds have settled atour feeders, change the recipe to 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. This recipe isactually a little closer to the nectar found in nature.

Another time to adapt the recipe is before the HummingbirdMigration. Did you know that these tiny birds need to bulk up and doubletheir body weight in order to successfully make the long migration journey? Canyou imagine doubling body weight is so short a time? So it is recommended byscientists that we increase the recipe to 1 part sugar to 3 parts water for amonth or so before the expected migration.

It is a misconception by some that nectar is a replacementfor water. True nectar is a liquid but hummingbirds, like all wild birds, needa water source.

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