How to Make Hummingbird Food

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Hummingbird food is important to know about if you're considering adding a feeder to your garden. Check out tips and info here!

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

Hummingbird Food

We are fortunatate enough in Oklahoma to have a good number of hummingbirds which migrate through! If you have the right plants, you can also attract local hummingbirds to your lawn and garden throughout the year.

It's very important to use the right nectar, if you're mixing up a Hummingbird food for your feeder. If you have the wrong food, you can end up harming these delicate birds, which no one would want to do!! See a recipe to make your own and important tips below.


Hummingbird Food: What You Need to Know

A Hummingbird’s diet consists of vitamins and minerals that they get from flower nectar. They also must have protein and they find all they need from the tiny soft-bodied insects that they catch and eat. What we provide, with our feeders, is energy. Our nectar gives them the needed energy to go out and find flower nectar and insects. We are not their main source of food.

It's good to note, that although a bird feeder seems like a simple addition to your garden, a Hummingbird Feeder and the nectar do require a little more of a time commitment. You are going to need to mix up the Hummingbird food in the kitchen, and carefully clean the feeders every 2-3 days at least, depending on the temperature and time of year.

  • 70-84 degrees – Clean every 3 days
  • 85-87 degrees – Clean every 2 days
  • 88-99 degrees – Clean every single day

If the feeders are not cleaned, the nectar (which is sugar water) can quickly mold and grow bacteria.

Both mold and bacteria are harmful and can be very toxic, so keeping a clean feeder is a must! If you don't think you will have the time (or desire) to keep up with your Hummingbird feeders, another option is to just plant some pretty flowers that naturally attract Hummingbirds. This is an easy alternative and we talk more about that below. 🙂

Keep Their Environment Safe.

Never use window feeders. Birds can’t see glass and window collisions are a major cause of injury and death to birds. Don’t allow your cats free access to your Hummingbirds. Don’t offer dangerous nesting material such as pet or human hair, yarn, dryer lint for example. They find all the nesting material they need without any of our help. If you feel you must offer something for them to use, use the raw cotton sold online that comes in suet feeder type holders.

Making Your Hummingbird Nectar

You can find more information on hummingbird food here.

I was able to mix up this recipe in my kitchen, and I had all ingredients already. You don't need any special additions.

Hummingbird Nectar Ingredients

I started with a Hummingbird Garden Feeder, Pure Cane Sugar, and water.

Measure out your water in a glass bowl. Sink/ tap water is just fine, no need to buy purified water or anything else. Boiling the water first is recommended on many sources.

4 cups warm water

Next, you will need regular white cane sugar. The Smithsonian Museum tips guide I referenced above mentions to “Always use refined white sugar (regular table sugar). Never use honey, corn syrup or raw, unprocessed sugars”. (Reference).


So, do not try to substitute your sugar, even if your alternative resembles it!

Measure out 1 cup of white sugar for every 4 cups of water. Keep in mind if you have extra Hummingbird food you can refrigerate. Just use within one week (you should use it well within that time frame if you are switching it out and cleaning your feeders as recommended).

As long as your ratio of sugar to water is 1:4, you can make as much or as little as you need. (One part sugar to four parts water).

cup of sugar

You can bring your water to a boil (not a must but recommended), and then remove from heat and stir sugar in well. The sugar should be completely dissolved.

Let cool completely before adding it to your clean feeder. You can print the recipe below.

NOTE: If your a first time feeder I recommend not even filling it half way till you see birds coming so you don't waste your nectar!

fill hummingbird feeder

Choosing a Hummingbird Feeder and Placement

I got this pretty red feeder to add to the garden for a pop of color. I love the decorative feeders! You won't be adding any red food coloring, so the red glass (or plastic) feeders are ideal. See links for Feeders below.

Pretty Hummingbird

When thinking about where to place your feeder, here are a few tips:

  • Find a place near a window or where you sit outside, so you can see the birds easily
  • Place it near trees. 
  • Find a shady spot

It's fun to watch the Hummingbirds find their own little perch and come down to feed, making a circle back up to their favorite spot.  If you have local Hummingbirds, you will start to recognize them over time! I love watching one little family of birds come down and return to their favorite perches. 

Hummingbird feeder outside

Look for them in the trees or try to follow them with your eyes or binoculars when they return to the trees, to try to spot them in their favorite places. Although they are small, they are territorial and have the same habits on where they like to be. 

Other Helpful Products:

If your Hummingbird Food is attacked by ants, you can buy an ant guard to attach to it. Be aware that if you move the feeder, the birds may not return since they are accustomed to looking for it in one place and are also territorial, so especially do not move around feeders over a large distance or if you are hoping to attract Hummingbirds to your garden for the first time.

Find an Ant Guard Here

As a word of caution, do not add oils or Vaseline to your feeder, as those are also very bad for the birds.

If you've seen old tips and tricks that involve adding ingredients to your food or on your feeder to keep away insects, verify the information first! You want your feeder to be a safe and healthy place for birds to enjoy.

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Fun Hummingbird Facts:

  • There are over 320 Hummingbird species in the world
  • The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is common in North America
  • Hummingbirds can fly forward, up and down, sideways and backwards, and also hover over flowers as it feeds.
  • Hummingbirds can beat their tiny wings anywhere from 80 per second (in the smallest birds) to 10 per second!

    (Reference: Britannica online)

Print Your DIY Hummingbird Food Recipe Here

Yield: 2 batches

Hummingbird Food

Hummingbird Food

Make your own Hummingbird Food with this easy recipe!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Difficulty Easy


  • Glass Bowl
  • Hummingbird Feeder
  • 1 cup measure


  • None


    Boil 4 cups water in a sauce pan.

    Remove from Heat

    Add 1 cup white cane sugar

    Stir until dissolved completely.

    Cool on counter completely.

    After cooled, pour into feeder.

    Any extra can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Do NOT use red dye

Any extra can be stored in fridge for 1 week. Change feeder every 2-3 days. Remember to clean feeder often, as temperature and appearance of your nectar indicate.

Clean if nectar has insects in it, or appear cloudy.

Do not run Hummingbird feeder parts in the dishwasher; Either Vinegar or Bleach is recommended. "Vinegar kills about 85% of bacteria. Or you can use bleach. If you use vinegar or bleach the water needs to have 10 parts to the 1 part solution. So 10 cups of water and 1 cup of Vinegar OR bleach." (Source: Hummingbird Whisperers Group, link in post).

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

More Good Info:

A special thanks to the Hummingbird Whisperers Group for great information. See Admin notes for TONS of great tips and helpful information if you are looking into this for your garden. Don't forget to join our HOT DEALS GROUP as well.

  • If you prefer plants to attract Hummingbirds, consider Honeysuckle. Where we are located, this plant is easy to care for and the birds love it. You can also find more plant options at the group link above.
  • Avoid window feeders, since birds can accidentally collide with glass
  • If you own cats, ensure the feeders are not within easy reach.
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  1. I’m using flowers this year. I’m glad you mentioned cleaning the feeders. Very important information.

  2. I just got my hummingbird feeder out of winter storage so thanks for the motivation to get it cleaned, filled and hung. I had no idea I should be cleaning/replacing the water so regularly so I will definitely keep that in mind this year!

  3. I’ve always been afraid to use feeders, thinking they would distract hummingbirds from pollinating.

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