How to Make Hummingbird Food from Sugar and Water
by Jane Lake
Bee balm, hollyhock, hibiscus, trumpet honeysuckle, clematis, impatiens, phlox, purple coneflower, roses, cosmos and fuchsias are some of the common flowers that will attract hummingbirds to your garden. But hanging a hummingbird feeder where you can easily see it is probably the best way to observe the hummingbirds in action.
There’s no need to buy expensive nectar – feed the hummingbirds by making your own syrup from the recipe shown here.
Homemade Hummingbird Food
1 part sugar/4 parts water
Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.
Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use.
Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.
You should clean your feeder at least once a week, more often if the water gets cloudy.
According to the National Audubon Society, cleaning should be done by rinsing with one part white vinegar to four parts water. If the feeder is dirty, try adding a few grains of dry rice to the vinegar solution to help scrub it clean. Follow the vinegar wash by rinsing three times with clear, warm water before refilling with sugar solution.
If mold develops, you will need to soak the feeder in a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) until the mold is gone. A small bottle brush can be handy to scrub crevices. Once the feeder is clean again, rinse it thoroughly, multiple times, removing all traces of bleach.
How to Make Hummingbird Food – Video
For visual instructions, watch a one-minute video on making homemade nectar.
Keep it Cool
~~ One interesting tip: freeze leftover nectar in ice cube trays; just melt the cubes and bring the nectar close to room temperature for use.
~~ During a heat wave, try popping a few nectar ice cubes directly into your usual feeder; like you, the hummers will appreciate a refreshing cool drink on a hot summer day.
How to Make an Ant Moat
If ants are a problem at your feeder, make a homemade ant moat to keep them away.
You’ll need a spray can cap, wire, and silicone caulking or hot glue. Simply drill or pierce a tiny hole in the middle of the cap, just large enough for the wire. Bend a hook on both ends of the wire and caulk around the hole to seal.
Hang the moat, filled with water, right over the feeder; this prevents ants from getting into your hummingbird food. Top up water as needed to keep the ants away.
Placement of Hummingbird Feeders
Since hummingbirds are territorial, you might consider hanging at least two feeders – one in the back yard and one in the front, thus accommodating as many hummingbirds as you can. Hanging the feeders in a shady spot discourages fermentation and nectar spoilage.
Make Your Own Hummingbird Feeders
Don’t buy a feeder – serve your homemade nectar in a feeder made from recycled plastic food tubs and plastic bottles.
This is creative recycling project for kids to try; they will be thrilled when the hummingbirds arrive to use their feeder.
Make a Bottle Feeder
Recycle narrow-necked glass bottles to make your own hummingbird feeders with handy feeder tubes.
These make great recycling nature projects for scouts, guides or youth groups.
I’ve seen pretty wine bottles, painted with flowers, then made into feeders with these tubes.
Heart-warming story of the author’s adoption of Squeak, a hummingbird rescued from killer frost. Squeak lives in her sun room until spring, while the author photographs and records what it’s like to interact with “a living jewel among the flowers”.
Bookmarks: For the hummingbird fan: free printable Hummingbird Bookmarks with sketched pictures.
Hummingbird Migration Maps
Hummingbird Migration Map
Track the migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds in North America; add your own first sighting of the season.
World Of Hummingbirds Map
Tracking hummingbirds around the world.
Wing Beat and Senses
The wing beat rate of hummingbirds varies by species, with the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird averaging a wing beat of about 53 per second, seen by the human eye as a blur. The wings move in a figure eight pattern to produce the gravity-defying hover effect for which hummers are famous.
Hummingbirds cannot smell and depend on eyesight to find flowers and food. Inexpensive red hummingbird feeders are readily available and attract the busy little birds without the need for coloring the food; this easy food source will keep them coming throughout the day.
Attract Orioles to Your Garden
Using a similar sugar and water solution, you can easily attract orioles to your backyard as well as hummingbirds. Orioles also appreciate an offering of oranges and nesting materials.