Refined white sugar
Instructions for making safe hummingbird food:
Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water (e.g., 1 cup sugar with 4 cups water) until sugar is dissolved
Do not add red dye
Fill your hummingbird feeder with the sugar water and ort outside
Additional sugar water can be stored in the refrigerator
Change the feeders every other day and clean them thoroughly each time to prevent harmful mold growth
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use tap water?
Yes. You can use tap water to make your hummingbird nectar.
What type of sugar can I use?
Always use refined white sugar (regular table sugar). Never use honey, corn syrup, or raw, unprocessed sugar.
Powdered sugar (also called confectioners’ sugar) often contains additional ingredients such as cornstarch. Therefore, it is not recommended for making hummingbird food.
Should I boil the water?
No, the water for your nectar does not need to be boiled. Stir or shake your mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved in the water.
What does 1 part sugar and 4 parts water mean?
One part can be any type of measurement (e.g. cup, ounce, quart, etc.) but will always be the same. To calculate 1 part sugar and 4 parts water for your recipe, first choose a measurement for “one part. “Then do some simple math:
1 x (chosen “one part” measurement) = total sugar
4 x (selected “one part” measurement) = total water
For example, if you want to make a large amount of sugar water, you can choose 1 part = 2 cups for your recipe.
1 x 2 cups = 2 cups of sugar
4 x 2 cups = 8 cups of water
So in this example, you would mix 2 cups of sugar (1 part) with 8 cups of water (4 parts).
To make a smaller batch of sugar water, you may decide that for your recipe, 1 part = ½ cup.
1 x ½ cup = ½ cup of sugar.
4 x ½ cup = 2 cups of water.
So in this example, you would mix ½ cup of sugar (1 part) with 2 cups of water (4 parts).
How long can I store additional sugar water in the refrigerator?
Supplemental sugar water for your hummingbird feed can be stored in the refrigerator, but should not be stored for more than two weeks. If you notice mold on your sugar water stored in the refrigerator, throw it away and make a new batch for your hummingbird feeder.
How often should I change the sugar water in my hummingbird feeder?
It is recommended that feeders be changed and thoroughly cleaned every other day, but it is important that they be cleaned and refilled at least twice a week in hot weather (summer) and once a week in cooler weather (spring/fall) to prevent mold growth.
When should I set up my feeder?
Hummingbirds are migratory, Therefore, exactly when you should set up or take down your hummingbird feeder depends on where you live. Along the Gulf Coast and other southern parts of the U.S., feeders can be set up from mid-February to early November. In the mid-latitudes, they should be placed from early to mid-April through late October. Farther north, they can be placed from early May through late September. Visit eBird to learn more about hummingbird migration.
It is a myth that leaving hummingbird feeders too late in the fall will prevent birds from migrating. Hummingbirds have an internal clock regulated by the changing length of the day that lets them know when it is time to leave.
Where should I set up my feeder?
Place your feeder in the shade of windows and areas with a lot of activity. If possible, place your feeder near trees. Hummingbirds are territorial and like to perch in nearby trees to chase away intruders in their feeding area.
Why shouldn’t I add red dye to my sugar water recipe?
Red dye or coloring is not necessary to attract hummingbirds and could be harmful to the birds.
What plants and flowers attract hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds like flowers that produce lots of nectar, such as bee balm, salvias, weigela, trumpet honeysuckle (and other trumpet vines), and bleeding hearts. Red, tubular flowers are especially popular with these birds.
Many nursery flowers are grown for color, longevity, and size but do not produce much nectar, but some nurseries may have sections devoted to hummingbirds