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How to Make Hummingbird Food - An Easy Nectar Recipe

Updated on May 28, 2017
JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

You can love and support your backyard birds in many ways. And yes, when a cardinal visits, I do believe it is like a visit from Heaven!

Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar

Hummingbirds are one of the most coveted bird visitors for any backyard. The high level of energy that these birds exhibit as they flit back and forth around the yard is reflected in the high calorie requirements for hummingbird food.

We'll show you the standard hummingbird food recipe for your backyard feeder to keep these birds visiting your hummingbird feeder year after year. Also, a few suggestions on types of feeders and plants to attract these special birds.

Red feeder with clear food
Red feeder with clear food

An Easy Hummingbird Food Recipe

Two Simple Ingredients

Hummingbirds are probably one of the most popular birds that people try to attract to their yards. One of the simplest ways to attract them is to include in your landscaping the plants that they naturally feed on. Two of the most popular plants are honeysuckle and trumpet creepers. Unfortunately, these plants are usually placed where you cannot easily see them, so the next best solution is to mount a hummingbird feeder where you can see it, and that means you will need to fill it with hummingbird food.

The classic formulation for hummingbird food is make make a solution of one part sugar to four parts water. Most experts suggest that you use cane sugar (the white granulated type is fine.) Starting with one cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar should be enough to begin with, but you can make more and store it if you want. Let it cool and then store it in the refrigerator. Try not to store it for more than a couple of weeks.

The water should be boiled first, this not only makes it easier to dissolve the sugar in the water, but helps eliminate the chlorine and any other baddies in the water.

Add the sugar at a rate of one cup of sugar to four cups of water. Note that you can depart from this ratio somewhat, and in fact in the wintertime you may want to add more sugar to boost the energy content of the mix. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Cool the solution and that's it, you are ready to feed the birds!

For more information, visit to get more information on how to clean hummingbird feeders, or or you can also find some information on building hummingbird feeders there as well.

Good Tip

Remember to clean your hummingbird feeder often for the best results.

Can I Use A Sugar Substitute and Food Coloring?

Be sure to use real sugar, artificial sweeteners are "low calorie" which means they have no nutritional value, and would do the birds no good. Don't use honey, as it has different sugars (not the sucrose naturally found in nectar) and it tends to ferment quicker as well.

Natural nectar is odorless and clear, so there is no need to add food coloring to the mix, and the color of the feeder should be enough to attract your hummingbirds.


Hummingbirds can flap their wings between 10-80 times per second, depending on their size.

Attracting Hummingbirds To Your Plants - Trumpet Vines are Ideal!

We have three trumpet vines in our yard and it is the first place I see the hummingbirds visit. They are a perfect pair of nature with the long "trumpeting" flower and the hummingbird's uniquely shaped beak. Can't go wrong with this!

What's Your Favorite Way to Attract Hummingbirds?

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    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 3 years ago from Vermont

      I plant some favorite hummingbird flowers -- monarda/bee balm -- and also hang my red feeder in early May so they can spot it when they first migrate here to Vermont. I filter our city tap water, then boil the water and dissolve the sugar to make my nectar.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 3 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @happynutritionist: I'm not sure the heating step is necessary, just think it helps blend the sugar more efficiently but, if you skip that step - it's good to know! Enjoy!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 3 years ago

      Funny I've never heated the water, just blend it into the water from the tap...we have well water. I have a steady stream of hummers now, so happy the season is here again.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      I try not to because we have cats.

    • profile image

      jseven lm 5 years ago

      My brother-in-law likes to put out oranges and he has this huge birdhouse and then about ten hummingbird feeders. Love to watch them!

    • joannalynn lm profile image

      joannalynn lm 5 years ago

      I must have suitable hummingbird plants in my garden, because I see them all the time. I have not intentionally planted hummingbird plant species (the species with long corolla throats). However, I like to have a feeder near my back sun porch window so I can watch them. I've identified the species we have here, but I can't recall it right now. It is a common Rufus.