How to Make Hummingbird Nectar

by NateB11

It's quite a pleasure to watch hummingbirds on the patio, in the yard, by the window. To attract them, you'll want a feeder and a nectar that they like and that gives them energy.

There's something very enjoyable about watching hummingbirds flit around on the patio; that beautiful shape, those rapidly moving wings, their graceful agility in the air.

No doubt if you are a hummingbird watcher you might wonder what is the best recipe for hummingbird food to attract them.

It's really quite simple. However, there are some things you want to avoid entirely when making nectar for the neighborhood hummingbirds. You're also going to want the best hummingbird feeder you can get.

Let's explore.

What Not To Feed Them

Hummingbirds need lots of fuel. You can kind of tell by the way they seem to constantly move about very rapidly. And they like to seek out this fuel while they're flitting about.

 These birds have a different metabolism than us humans and they also need a significant amount of calories to keep their energy up. Typically, when making food for hummingbirds, you'll want to mimic the sweet nectar of flowers. However, not everything sweet is good for hummingbirds.

 Many people have begun to use raw sugar in their hummingbird food mixtures. Seems to make sense. It's healthy for us, we assume it's healthy for hummingbirds. But this is not the case. Like I said, hummingbirds have different bodies than us, different digestive systems and they store and process food differently in their bodies. Raw sugar goes through the same processes as white refined sugar except that certain non-sugar elements remain: Namely, molasses and iron. Hummingbirds' bodies horde iron because they normally don't get it in their diets. Consequently even a small amount of it can be toxic for them.

 People also might be tempted to use honey in the nectar they make for these little active birds. Again, honey is also not good for hummingbirds. It can give them sores in their mouths and it ferments quickly; it can mold and be deadly to hummingbirds. Like molasses, it's too heavy for hummingbirds to digest. Agave and brown sugar are also both too heavy for hummingbirds.

 Some folks might want to use artificial sweeteners for nectar. These sweeteners don't have enough calories to give hummingbirds what they need.

 Many commercial foods contain extra nutrients and flavoring which, essentially, are unnecessary.

So, what should be in hummingbird nectar?

Best Hummingbird Food Recipe

So, you are better off giving them pure sucrose. It has enough calories to give them energy to continue foraging and doesn't harm them. Here is the best and most basic recipe for hummingbird food.

  1. You will need one cup of white, refined granulated sugar. You can use two cups of sugar if it's the time of year when hummingbirds are more active and need more energy.
  2. You will need four cups of water. Use an extra cup of water when it's hot outside. Note: Use six cups of water if you are using two cups of sugar for the season when the hummingbirds need extra energy. In other words, you use a three to one ratio for the "energy season" (which is usually early Spring).
  3. Bring the water to a boil and mix in the sugar.
  4. Cover it (so the sugar doesn't concentrate) and let it boil for a minute.
  5. Let sit and cool.
  6. Store in sturdy container that you can differentiate between other products in the refrigerator.

Make sure to clean out feeders every 3-4 days and also to throw out any extra nectar at that time and make a fresh batch.

Not Your Nectar Hummingbird Nectar Carafe

Easy-to-hold Not Your Nectar Carafes are Fridge Perfect. Crystal clear acrylic carafes seal airtight in cold storage. Nondrip spouts make pouring a breeze36 ounces. Hummingbird ...

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Best Hummingbird Feeder

You want a feeder that is easy to clean. Some of them have openings where the food goes that are too narrow. You might be able to use a bottle brush to clean them, but it becomes more labor intensive.

 Why create more work.

 You'll also want a feeder that is easy to handle. One you can sit on the kitchen counter so you can go to work cleaning it.

 Mostly, you want one that will attract the birds. The ones with multiple feeding tubes. Along these lines, the ones with perches are more attractive to hummingbirds, gives them a place to rest and eat.

 Of course you want a feeder that is easy to disassemble and reassemble.

 The color of the feeder should be red, most are, because this color is particularly attractive to hummingbirds.

 As far as the main requirements I listed above, being easy to clean, with multiple feeding tubes and perches, Dr. JB's Clean Hummingbird feeder is ideal and is dishwasher-safe. In addition, it is resistant to bugs that are pests and dangerous to hummingbirds. Perky Pet also puts out some good products that have perches, are easy to handle and have multiple feeding ports.

Perky-Pet 203CPBN Pinch Waist Glass Hummingbird Feeder with Free Nectar

The bright red base and flowers of the Perky-Pet Pinch Waist Hummingbird Feeder will attract the tiny hummingbirds to your yard! The wide mouth opening on this glass bottle make...

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Songbird Essentials SE6002 Dr Jb's Clean Feeder, Red, 16-Ounce (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

The hummingbird enthusiasts want high quality feeders that last longer and are easier to clean. The result is a new feeder with dishwasher safe removable parts and a wide mouthe...

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So, pure sucrose is better for hummingbirds than heavy honey or molasses and has no harmful ingredients like mold or iron. Feeders should be attractive and accommodating to your flighty visitors and also be easy to clean and maintain.

 Above all, enjoy watching those cute little quick birdies on the patio!

Updated: 06/23/2015, NateB11
 
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blackspanielgallery on 06/26/2015

They are indeed fun to watch. We have some in this area, but not many.

NateB11 on 06/24/2015

Sugar and water seems to be the best, candy. thanks for stopping by!

candy47 on 06/24/2015

I haven't had much luck attracting hummingbirds out here in the desert. I've used store bought powdered nectar with negative results. I'll try sugar and water...simple enough! Thanks.

NateB11 on 06/23/2015

Exactly, Jennifer.

jptanabe on 06/23/2015

My hummingbird feeder is certainly humming this year! White sugar and water is all they need.

NateB11 on 06/21/2015

Cool, Pam. Yes, they really are marvelous creatures. Glad you like the Perky Pet feeder. Thanks for the tip on cleaning the feeders!

dustytoes on 06/21/2015

I feed hummingbirds all summer and do it the way you suggest. White sugar and water. They suck it down quickly for such little birds! I have the Perky Pet feeder which works well. Feeders should be cleaned out every few days in summer whether the nectar is gone or not.

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