The Best Hummingbird Food Recipe (& feeder care)

beautiful rufous throated hummingbird resting on a branch
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Hummingbirds are one of the most pleasant and colorful presence in a garden. If you’re a bird enthusiast, then consider growing colorful flowers and plants in your garden to attract these tiny creatures.

In addition to growing vegetables and flowers, you may also consider adding a simple sugar water feeder to entice hummers to your backyard, porch or garden!

Easiest & Best Hummingbird Food Recipe

Primarily, hummingbirds feed on flower nectar. However, an easy homemade sugar water “nectar” works just as well as a hummingbird food.

It is not difficult to make hummingbird sugar water. If you’re not sure where to get started, then don’t worry because we are sharing the easiest and best hummingbird food recipe ever!

An interesting fact is that hummingbirds do not live on just nectar or sugar water, they also consumer small bugs and spider. This helps give them the needed protein.

Keep reading to learn more about making this super easy homemade “nectar” recipe as well as necessary hummingbird feeder care.

So, let’s dive right in!

hummingbird feeder hanging in a tree

How to Make Hummingbird Food – Easy Recipe

The recipe that we’re sharing with you is simple enough for first timers.

You don’t need to use any red food dye or preservatives in this recipe if your feeder has some red coloration on it or is decorated with fake red flowers as these will attract the birds to it.

Therefore, there is no need to add artificial dye or coloring to the nectar inside to keep it as clean and nutritious as possible without putting the birds at the risk of the side effects of preservatives. 

Now, let’s talk a little bit about the two main ingredients that will be used in this recipe:

Little Hummingbird Sipping Nectar

Pure White Sugar and Filtered Fresh Water

Use Pure white cane sugar ONLY: For this recipe, it is mandatory to use pure white sugar, which means you should avoid using organic raw or brown sugar.

This is because if the sugar is not refined into a 100% white color, there is a chance that it contains molasses.

Molasses, an iron-rich constituent, can be highly toxic to hummingbirds even if given in very small doses.

Therefore, make sure you avoid all raw or brown sugar. If the sugar you use at home has a brown tint to it, don’t use it in your hummingbird food recipe.

We also advise against using honey, artificial sweeteners, or agave syrup. If you want an alternative for white cane sugar, then beet sugar is only other suitable option.

Clean Water: You will need clean, filtered, un-chlorinated water from a well, spring, or simply a home filter. You can also use tap water, but the other options are more preferred.

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The Type of Hummingbird Feeders

There are several hummingbird feeders on the market with certain feeder styles being better than others.

The main features that a GREAT feeder has are:

  • The feeder needs to have some RED on in…..just somewhere on the feeder!
  • Decorative flower shaped founts where the hummers can drink
  • A decent and safe way to hang up the feeder
  • and…..Little Perches of some sort!

I love the feeders that offer little perches as these hummingbirds are so busy all the time that they rarely have time to rest.

By offering little perches in front of the flower feeding founts, gives the hummers a few seconds to relax. These are not absolutely necessary but a thoughtful touch!

The feeders listed below all have the 4 requirements for the best styles.

Hummingbird Food Recipe

Now let’s talk about how to prepare the materials:

The standardized sugar-to-water ratio for our homemade hummingbird food is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.

So, depending on the quantity needed use:

  • 1 cup of sugar combined with 4 cups of water, or
  • half cup sugar and 2 cups water, or
  • a ¼ cup sugar to 1 cup water. 

The suitable amount will depend on the capacity of your feeder and the number of hummingbirds that visit your garden in search of food.

Make sure you get the measurements right because if you put in too much or too little sugar can be unhealthy and dehydrating for the hummingbirds.

However, in the cold weather, you can increase the sugar to water ratio to 1 part sugar to only 3 parts water to give the birds an added boost of energy.

This sweeter nectar also prevents the sugar water from freezing when the temperature drops.

Word to the Wise: remember to pull your hummingbird feeders before freezing temperatures so they do not freeze!

hummingbird hovering while drinking nectar from pink bell flowers

Step-by-step Instructions for Making Hummingbird Food

Here are the steps involved in making Hummingbird food:

  1. In a pot, combine 1 part sugar with 4 parts water and put it on the stove. 
  2. Heat the pot lightly and stir it thoroughly until the sugar completely dissolves. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Let the sugar water cool down to room temperature.
  4. Once it has cooled, add the homemade hummingbird food to your feeder.
  5. Hang the feeder in your garden or backyard, and wait for the hummingbirds to come flocking to it and enjoy their food.
  6. If there is some unused feed left left, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

KEEP Your Hummingbird Feeder CLEAN!

Make sure to keep your feeder super clean!

Please read all the way through the following information and do not simply top off the sugar water in your feeder without first giving the feeder a good cleaning!

Hummingbird feeder are notorious for developing mold in the sugar water as well as on the sides of the glass or plastic container and in the base itself.

(You will also be surprised at the number of bees and ants that are attracted to your hummingbird feeders. So, make sure to clean these bugs out, too!)

Always make sure to thoroughly clean inside the base as well as the flower drinking founts. Little brushes are super helpful in getting your feeder clean!

bright red hummingbird feeder with a small hummingbird sipping sugar water

Cleaning Your Feeder:

  • Pour out and discard any leftover sugar water
  • Take the feeder completely apart and place in the sink
  • Rinse the individual pieces with warm water to remove debris or bugs
  • Soak the pieces in warm soapy water for 10 minutes
  • Use a small dish mop or brush to clean each part of the hummingbird feeder
  • Rinse well in warm water
  • Let feeder and parts air dry before adding new sugar water
  • Fill Up with Fresh Homemade Hummingbird Nectar
  • Hang Up your Feeder and Enjoy!

Now, if you live in the the northern states, then your hummingbirds with arrive in the spring and stay through the summer.

But, if you live in the southern states, then your hummingbird population will arrive during the late fall and stay during the winter months.

You can read more about Hummingbird Migration or the Fun Hummingbird Facts if this is of interest to you!

Hummingbird drinking nectar from a Red Flowers

Final Thoughts

Hummingbirds are truly a delight and you will see your garden light up once they start eagerly visiting your feeder to food.

They offer some fantastic free entertainment to your yard!

Humming Bird Food promo image

This easy recipe is the best hummingbird food recipe out there. Let us know in the comments your experience with it!

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