Attracting Hummingbirds and other Birds
No need to buy the powdered Hummingbird Nectar mix from the store for this rewarding hobby. Instead, make your with this simple hummingbird nectar recipe. You only need water and white sugar – super simple and easy to make.
Use the following proportion:
1 part regular white sugar to 4 parts water.
Example: 1 cup sugar, 4 cups water
1. Boil the water. Debatable*
2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
3. Let cool.
4. Refrigerate in a designated hummingbird feeder pitcher.
That’s it. Nothing more:
There is no need to add anything extra to the mixture, i.e. coloring – that means NO Red Food Coloring, No Honey, etc. These things are NOT necessary andcould be harmful. Honey will quickly ferment becoming poisonous to the birds.
How to Make the Hummingbird Mixture:
Using a microwave works too. Put the water in a microwave safe container and heat to boiling point. Carefully remove and add sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. I fill my clean feeders and set them aside to cool and let the rest cool a bit before storing in the fridge.
Note: There is some debate on whether the water needs to be brought to a boil to make the nectar safe or not. In the past I have always heated my water to hot, but not boiling and mixed from that point. Anyway, one commenter below says it does not need to be boiled as it is the birds tongues which put bacteria into the water. However, another commenter says it does need to be boiled to get the chlorine out of the water and bacteria off the sugar.
My understanding is the water is boiled to make the sugar dissolve easier. It also slows down the fermenting process of the sugar water.. however, you should be changing your nectar solution every few days anyway so fermented nectar should not be an issue.
What I have been doing this year is using water I store in gallon jugs (I use for my plants and my fish – the water comes from the tap, but as it is sits for a couple days the chlorine is evaporated out. I use this to make my hummingbird nectar (and oriole and butterfly) without heating and definitely not to boiling. As a matter of fact, I got one of the butterfly pavilions – it says to make nectar using water and sugar… nothing about heating the water.
Back to the Nectar Recipe and Directions:
Storing hummingbird nectar: I store all varieties of my wild bird (Orioles, Hummingbirds, Butterflies, etc) “juice” up to two weeks in the fridge, but generally need to make it more often than that.
Tip: I use a Rubbermaid container or a clean milk carton, clearly marked, to store my hummingbird juice in the refrigerator. Another idea I recently read is to freeze the extra. I may try this by putting it in a freezer bag and freezing flat. Once it is frozen, it would break up easily to place into the feeder.
Discard: If the juice in the feeder(s) becomes cloudy, or mucky, empty, clean and refill.
Cleaning: Make sure bird feeders are cleaned every few days to a week to prevent any ickies. Cleaning with a solution of vinegar and hot water is good.
Location and Feeders: More than one feeder, placed strategically around the yard, will encourage more hummingbirds to visit at a time. They are territorial birds, so place feeders out of the line of sight of each other.
note: however, I have had more than one at a feeder at time with no ill-will directed towards each other. Experiment a bit.
Enjoy your visitors!
Want to attract Orioles? Here’s our Homemade Oriole Nectar Recipe – and a few other Oriole feeding ideas.