How to Make Hummingbird Food
Homemade hummingbird nectar is cheap, simple, environmentally friendly, and healthy. It's so easy to make that there is almost more effort involved in buying hummingbird nectar than in making a batch at home!
So let's get started! You'll need to gather a few things (a small pot, hummingbird feeder, sugar, and water.) One thing you won't need is food coloring. It's actually not good for hummingbirds! You can find out more about this below.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- Prep time: 2 min
- Cook time: 10 min
- Ready in: 12 min
- Yields: Approx 2 cups of hummingbird food
- Measure out 1/2 cup of sugar and two cups of water. (Note: If you would like to make more and less food, the recipe is just one part sugar mixed with four parts water.) Add this to a small pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. While it's cooking, stir to aid in dissolving the sugar.
- The mixture is done when all the sugar is dissolved. This can take about 10 minutes depending on the start temperature of the water and the quantity used. (If you've doubled the recipe, cook times will change.)
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature. You can put it in the refrigerator to speed up this process.
- Add the mixture to a clean hummingbird feeder. To clean the feeder, rinse it out with water and wipe off any dirt. Voilà! You've made your own hummingbird nectar. Hang up the feeder and watch your birds enjoy the tasty meal!
Buying Nectar: Hummingbirds and Food Coloring
If you're short on extra time and can't make hummingbird food, you can purchase it at any garden supply store (Lowe's, Menard's, etc.) It's important to note that commercial hummingbird food often contains extra chemicals that can actually harm your feathered friends.
While the red food looks tasty, do not buy any hummingbird food with added dye. Food coloring can cause kidney damage in hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds are attracted to a pretty red color, but as long as you have a colorful bird feeder (most of them seem to have a red or yellow flower design), you'll attract hummingbirds.
How to Store Extra Food & Fight Sugar Crystallization
If you're worried about not having the time to make food on a regular basis, make a giant batch all at once. Sugar keeps for quite a while (it's even used as a preservative!) You can store any extra food in an airtight container and make sure to wipe it clean so it doesn't attract ants.
I suggest using old maple syrup containers. Not only is a syrup bottle made to hold sugary goodness, but repurposing a plastic bottle is definitely environmentally friendly. You'll want to use a funnel to get the nectar into the container. This could help you avoid a potentially sticky mess. When you want to use it later, just squeeze it into the feeder!
Depending on the moisture content, the food may crystallize over time. If this happens, you can just add some water and pop in it the microwave. Just remember to let it cool before feeding. If you find that this happens a lot, just increase the amount of water you add when you make the food.