Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe: 4 parts water to 1 part sugar
Here you will learn the hummingbird nectar recipe, when to change the nectar, how to clean the feeder, how to bee and ant proof your hummingbird feeder and much more. At the end of the page you will also learn how to hand feed your hummingbirds.
We love hummingbirds and love to watch them throughout the day, especially after a long day, relaxing in our backyard nature retreat.
We have 4 feeders that are strategically located throughout our gardens. The red, hummingbird nectar feeders ( red attracts hummingbirds) are placed in areas that are naturally defined “territories” ( as you know, hummingbirds are very territorial) which helps cut down on the fighting.
Our homemade hummingbird nectar recipe is derived from the old standard recipe, but please be aware that a lot of research has gone into making sure that we are providing the most beneficial source of hummingbird food replacement.
Our homemade hummingbird nectar recipe starts with cane sugar. As you know, there are two sources of sugar: cane sugar and beet sugar, of which 70% of the world’s supply comes from cane sugar. Both are chemically “sucrose” and fall into the carbohydrate family. Carbohydrates are easily digested and provide the immediate “energy boost” that hummingbirds need to sustain their incredibly high metabolism. (Comment: I guess if we humans had that kind of metabolism we wouldn’t be facing our obesity crisis! Wow…what a concept …more exercise …increased metabolic rate …burn more calories …less fat).
Sorry! Back to the topic…the second constituent our homemade hummingbird nectar recipe is water. Ever thought about the type of water you use for your hummingbird food? We have. The hummingbird’s source water comes from the naturally occurring water sources available: dew, rain water and deposits of rain water, people provided (bird baths), and finally that provided in the hummingbird’s diet.
We use our tap water in our homemade hummingbird nectar, which is supplied from our well. The water’s chemical composition is generally hard ( contains calcium and magnesium) but has a TDS ( Total Dissolved Solids) of 275 ppm with no measurable concentrations of lead or arsenic. Its safe for us to drink so the hummers get the benefits of some added minerals. We feel its better than using distilled or purified water in our homemade hummingbird nectar recipe.
Now, if you’re a city dweller, you may have chlorine or fluoride added to your water. I’d recommend boiling that water to flash off the chlorine or fluoride, 2 minutes of boiling should be sufficient.
Next ingredient ….RED COLORING….No way!
Lets look at it from a hummingbird’s perspective. They like red and are attracted to the color due to genetics and environmental stimuli … flowers. If your hummingbird feeder is red… why do you need more? If your feeder isn’t red you can attach some red ribbon or red silk flowers to help attract them.
Naturally occurring nectar is clear and odorless ( Hummingbirds are not attracted by scent). So why buy these colored or scented mixes?
The red coloring (Red #40) has been banned in countries due to its mutation properties ( can cause cancer). Why would you want to introduce chemicals into the hummingbird’s diet that are foreign to their digestive system?
Several experienced, licensed wildlife rehabilitators have reported seeing disturbing damage in hummers that were known to use dyed syrup, including tumors of the bill and liver.
Here is our researched homemade hummingbird nectar recipe:
1 part cane sugar/ 4 parts water ( no chlorine or fluoride) 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. You can boil the water to let the chlorine or fluoride escape. Boiling for 2 minutes is long enough.
Here is the “Nectar Aid’ self measuring pitcher. It’s the quickest and easiest way to make and pour your hummingbird nectar. “Nectar Aid” is a mixing pitcher, measuring cup, microwave container, mixing spoon, funnel and storage container all rolled into one.
Below is a video about the Nectar Aid self-measuring pitcher
George and wife Judy are empty nesters (ah ha no wonder the affinity for birds!) who enjoy the outdoors, stained glass and eagerly awaiting for the truckloads of laundry that their two college daughters bring home. Of recent, the internet has played an integral part in George’s lengthening “To Do” list and Judy’s search for a internet rehabilitation center.
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When to change the homemade hummingbird nectar in your feeder
To keep hummingbirds returning to your feeder, you will need to keep the nectar fresh. The outside air temperature is what determines how long the hummingbird nectar will stay fresh. Heat is what causes the sugar in the nectar to ferment. Once the sugar starts to ferment mold and bacteria will start to grow in the nectar. The hotter the temperature, the more often the nectar will have to be changed. There are signs that will alert you to when it’s time to change the nectar. Once the nectar starts to look cloudy, it’s time to put in fresh nectar. If you see little black specks of mold in the nectar or see black mold growing on your feeder, you will know you have waited to long. Here is a chart that will show a general time frame as to how long you might have before you have to change the hummingbird nectar.
High temperatures Change nectar after
71-75 6 days
76-80 5 days
81-84 4 days
85-88 3 days
89-92 2 days
93+ change daily
Every time you change the nectar you need to clean your feeder. If you change it on time, before any mold starts to grow, all you have to do is rinse it out with hot water before you add the fresh nectar. The National Audubon Society says you should clean your hummingbird feeder once a week. They say to clean it by rinsing it with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water, then rinse the feeder out with clear warm water 3 times before refilling.
If you wait too long to change the hummingbird nectar and you notice that mold has started to grow, you will need to clean your feeder with a mild bleach solution to kill the mold and bacteria. Make a solution of 10% bleach to 90% water and submerge your entire feeder for an hour. You will also want to brush off all signs of any mold from your feeder. You may want to invest in some special hummingbird feeder brushes to make this cleaning job a lot easier. Once the feeder is cleaned you should rinse it out 3 or 4 times with running water to be sure that you have removed all traces of the bleach solution.
Below is a good video that demonstrates how to clean a hummingbird feeder.
Now that your homemade hummingbird nectar recipe is done, you will need to get a feeder that is easy to take apart and clean, and one that will also protect your hummingbird food from bees, ants and wasps.
My favorite choice of hummingbird feeders to use with the homemade hummingbird nectar recipe is Aspects 12oz Hummzinger Ultra With Nectar Guard
This is an inexpensive feeder that has all the features that a good hummingbird feeder should have. It’s a basin type feeder, therefore it won’t leak and attract insects to the leaking nectar. It’s easy to take apart and clean. This is a very important feature. An easy to clean feeder is one that you will be more likely to keep clean, which in turn, will assure the health of your hummingbirds and insure that they will keep using your feeder. It has a built-in ant moat at the base of the hanger. This little container holds water and because ants can’t swim, it keeps ants away form the nectar. The feeding ports have built-in nectar guards that keep bees, wasps and all other flying insects from reaching the nectar. The hummingbirds can easily stick their long bills through the nectar guards to feed, but the insects can’t reach the nectar. This feeder has raised feeding ports that keep out rain water and prevents it from diluting the nectar. The red color f the feeder will also attract hummingbirds to the feeder.
This mid-size nectar feeder has a 12 oz. capacity and can be hung or post mounted with hardware provided. It has four feeding ports for hummingbirds and is made of unbreakable polycarbonate.
For ease of cleaning and protection from bees, wasps and ants, this feeder can’t be beat.
If you already have a hummingbird feeder, and you want to protect your homemade hummingbird nectar from ants and other crawling insects, the ant moat below will do the job.
The Trap It ant moat will keep ants out of your hummingbird feeder. The water barrier that it provides will keep them from getting into the hummingbird nectar, drowning and decomposing and ruining the nectar.
Just place the ant moat between the hangar and the feeder and your ant problem will be solved.
If you would like to make your own ant moat, below is a video that will teach you how.
If you have an existing feeder that needs to be protected from bees and wasps, below is a video that shows how a man bee proofed his feeder using plastic mesh from an onion sack.
If you would like to learn how to hand feed your hummingbirds, I have posted 2 videos below on hand feeding hummingbirds.
Three handheld feeders sets of Instructions and 6 packs of sugar are included
This included 2 small cone shaped brushes
Receive illustrated hummingbird postcard and bookmark.
The included all natural wood and wool fabrics.
Included e-book Hummingbird 101 this illustrated guide will teach about how to attract, feed, and care for hummingbirds.
If you would like to learn how to hand feed all your other backyard birds as well as squirrels, click on the link Hand feeding backyard birds and squirrels.
Now you know how to make your own homemade hummingbird nectar, when to change your nectar and how to clean your feeder. You also know how to hand feed your hummingbirds. I hope you have found this information valuable. If you have, please click the social sharing buttons on the left side of the page and share this information with others! Thank you.