Learn how to make hummingbird nectar with this easy recipe. There’s something truly enchanting about these tiny, iridescent birds buzzing around the garden, don’t you agree?
By providing them with a food source, you can easily attract colorful hummers to your yard. When you make hummingbird nectar from scratch, you’re ensuring that you provide them with a safe food source that will keep them coming back for more.
Hummingbirds are known for their love of nectar, a sweet, energy-packed liquid that fuels their fast-paced flight. Making your own hummingbird food is not only inexpensive, but also allows you to have complete control over the ingredients you use.
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By following our step-by-step instructions, you’ll learn how to create a homemade nectar solution that is free from additives, preservatives, and artificial coloring, ensuring the health and well-being of these incredible little birds
I always love hearing the thrilling, trilling sound of the first hummingbirds here in Colorado. According to Audubon, hummingbirds beat their strong, tiny wings 90 times per second.
Their energetic metabolisms burn up calories fast, which is why they typically eat half of their weight in bugs and nectar every day and visit 1,000 to 2,000 flowers a day.
We hang a feeder in the shade garden, and if we’re quiet we can watch the hummers stop by for a drink throughout the summer.
The stores have commercial hummingbird nectar on the shelves right now, but a quick look at the ingredients list reveals that the mixture is mostly water and sugar enhanced with red dye #40 and chemical preservatives.
Instead, make your own hummingbird nectar. It’s easy and inexpensive, and all you need is water and refined sugar.
Audubon Society Hummingbird Nectar Formula
According to Audubon, “Plain white table sugar is sucrose, which, when mixed with water, very closely mimics the chemical composition of natural nectar.”
Perhaps, like me, you’re thinking that sugar water can’t possibly be a good thing to feed wild birds. I was tempted to make homemade nectar with a healthier ingredient than refined sugar — honey or raw sugar, for instance.
But Audubon says NO — plain ole’ refined sugar is best since raw and organic sugars contain higher levels of iron that could be harmful to the birds, and honey can promote “dangerous fungal growth.” Goodness knows I always try to avoid that.
You don’t need to add red food coloring, either, according to Audubon. Just use a brightly colored feeder to attract the hummers.
Real Life Note from Eliza: I found that adding a couple of drops of red food coloring to the mix attracted more hummingbirds here than when we filled the feeder with clear nectar. I’d love to hear your experience with both options!
13 Flowers Hummingbirds Like
You can also attract hummingbirds to your garden or yard by planting nectar-rich flowers.
Look for blossoms in bright colors, which are more attractive to hummingbirds than light pastel hues. Tubular-shaped flowers tend to contain more nectar. Here are some varieties that are especially attractive to hummers:
- Bee balms
If you want to take a deeper dive into hummingbird watching, check out Audubon’s mobile app where you can learn more about hummingbirds and share your own sightings and observations.
I also like to record when the first hummingbirds arrive each year in my garden journal, so I can have the feeders up and ready for them.
Hummingbird Food Recipe
Here’s the easy recipe for homemade hummingbird food:
Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup refined white sugar
- In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Add the sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before filling feeder. Change nectar weekly.
How About You?
Does your garden attract hummingbirds? Do you have a feeder? Do you grow any special flowers in your garden that the hummers especially like?
Drop a comment below about your experiences!