January 21, 2015

Homemade hummingbird food (nectar) recipe

Hummingbird-Nectar-Recipe-FoodPhoto taken in my backyard! I have feeders everywhere. This recipe works like a charm.
I have this pinned to my Gardening Pinterest board here.

Homemade Hummingbird Food (Nectar) Recipe

I love the satisfaction of spotting a hummingbird. They are such fast little buggers that you barely get more than a buzzing over your head as they fly to their next sweet spot. My friend gave me a homemade hummingbird nectar recipe many years back – and it works like a charm at beckoning these long-beaked beauties. The birds love the nectar, it’s simple and frugal to make, and it is safe for the birds (unlike some of the red colored packaged stuff from the stores).


4 cups water

1 cup white sugar


Boil water, add sugar, stir until dissolved.

Don’t boil too long – it will change the ratio of sugar to water. You want a ratio of four (4) parts water to one (1) part sugar. So you could do 2 cups water and 1/2 sugar, if you wanted or any quantity that follows the ratio.

Wait for it to cool and add to feeders. If you have leftovers, keep in fridge for up to two weeks.

Don’t add food coloring – it can be harmful. I’ve found red feeders with clear nectar are very effective without adding extra colorings. Also placing the feeder near flowers and/or greenery – the birds like a quick escape into a tree or brush. Try to avoid spilling – or else you’ll be in the business of attracting ants.

Clean your feeders about twice a month to keep build-up at bay. Once the hummingbirds find you – you’ll need to be filling them up about that often anyway! Lowes or Home Depot carry window hooks that allow you to put the feeders on your windows – which is a fantastic way to see a bird. In fact, we had a hummingbird on our feeder throughout most of dinner last night – right on the dining room window. The whole family enjoyed watching it and we were glad he/she joined us for our meal. 😉


If you don’t spot hummingbirds right away – don’t fret. Just keep putting out the food and they’ll come once they’ve deemed it safe, promise. Then they’ll come in droves.

And just for fun, I want to share one of my favorite mom memories. This is a photo of my son when he was about 9 months old. Watching the hummingbirds fly around the back deck and sip from the feeder. I can’t believe he’s going to be  even years old this year. Time flies, almost as fast as a hummingbird. . .

Do you have any secrets for attracting hummingbirds?


    Leave your comments here...


  1. Brian Mann says

    Hello. I enjoy the heck out of watching ALL types of birds during spring and summer months. I have placed several seed feeders for wild birds, and a few hummingbird feeders as well. I have used the 4:1 ratio for the last two years. I also use the commercially available food with the red dye. My birds tend to go for the plain sugar water over the red nectar, which surprised me. I also did extensive research into making nectar at home. EVERY site I visited, including the Audubon Society, Farmers Almanac, & hummingbirds.com (just to name a few), state that the plain sugar water is not harmful to the birds if prepared properly. And the prepackaged foods are more hamful because of the red dye. Planting flowers near your feeders that attract hummers is also a good idea, as this allows them to receive the necessary (natural) nutrients needed. Thank you Heather for your post!

  2. Is it safe to use the pure cane sugar when making the nectar?

  3. can you use agave or any other of the new natural sweeteners?

  4. I use this same recipe but my sugar doesn’t seem to dissolve all the way. Is that normal? I stir it until it looks dissolved and I set a time so I turn it off as soon as it starts a boil. But when I let it set for a while to cool, I still need to stir it before I pour it. Is that how yours is? I have lots of hummers and I refill 5 large feeders every 3 days and I clean them every time. I have other nectar loving birds that use them too. They can’t get their beaks in but they sit on the perches and tip the feeder enough to get the sugar water out. Thanks for the great info!

  5. Just wondering if it’s OK to add a little beet juice to the nectar mixture. I like the look of having a red color nectar inside the feeder.

    • I am not sure. But I would be cautious to add anything to it. The red nectar is a commercially created thing – because hummingbirds are attracted to red colors. Maybe you can look for a red feeder (not glass) so the clear sugar water appears red. Just an idea.

  6. sugar is very bad for these little birds,,all u are doing is killing them,,read before you feed any wildlife

  7. For some reason the picture of your son made me tear up when I read that he is 11 now. Perhaps it’s because I have a 28 year old daughter and a brand new 6mo old little boy who loves to sit and look out the window at the world, and I know firsthand how fast time rolls onward. Your son was gorgeous then, as I’m sure he still now. Kids are the most amazing thing in the world….I can’t even imagine what my life would have been without them. I wouldn’t be “me”, because they have made me who I am. BTW…this is the HB feeder recipe we have always used as well. It’s good stuff and the little guys love it so much, they dive bomb each other for the territory of the feeder. You do NOT want to be standing close by when they are divebombing. It’s kind of scary.

  8. Marilyn Fuqua says

    I heard sometime, somewhere that using sugar water isn’t healthy for them because it doesn’t have the proper nutrients. Anyone hear anything about that? It may have just been the companies that sell nectar to get you to buy theirs!

    • Ann-Marie says

      yes I have heard and read numerous times that sugar water is not good for hummers because there are no nutrients in it. Flowers do not produce sugar water they produce nectar which has vitamins. This helps them to produce eggs with the proper thickness of shells as well as breed healthy young. Hummers love the sweetness of the sugar water and become reliant on it. It doe’s not mean that it is good for them.

  9. Any crafts on making a feeder? Would like to make something rather than buying one. Thx!

  10. I’ve been using this recipe for years with great success. I won’t buy the commercial mixes because of the dye, plus the expense. They are quite territorial in our area (Southeast), so I have multiple feeders in our yard (we only see Ruby hummingbirds in the spring and summer). Don’t forget to invest in some ant barriers to hang your feeders on. The big red ones are available everywhere, but I found some handmade copper ones on eBay several years back that were gorgeous.

  11. In the winter they need the extra sugar when it’s really cold. So 3 cups of water, 1 cup sugar 🙂 Only in the cold winter months, though.

  12. Glad your recipe showed no color ! The red food coloring in the nectar has shown to cause the hummingbird eggs to be so thin that it has caused a problem with the reproduction in the species. So thanks! 🙂 This will make happy reproductive birds!

  13. The Anna’s are here all year around but, in another month or so, the Rufus will be here too!!! Then, your feeders will look like bee hives!!

    • Ann-Marie says

      Smearing a little canola or olive oil on the feeder heads will keep the bees away. The hummers don’t mind the oil but other nectar feeders do but after a week or so the bees will stay away and then you can stop with the oil and the other birds will be back. This happens every year and I love to see the other nectar feeders as well. Make sure to clean the oil off every time you clean the feeder and renew the oil. Ants are another pest. I have found that chalking a band around the pole or hanger keeps them away, just use regular sidewalk chalk. Just be sure to re-chalk after it rains 🙂

  14. Love the pictures of the hummers. We feed the Anna’s hummers in the Winter. We keep a full feeder in the house and quickly replace it in the morning. It’s a good idea to buy a second feeder just for this purpose.

  15. Great picture of your sweet son.. I have also heard about food coloring, and I also heard that the hummingbirds don’t like the taste of the store-bought red nectar and tend to avoid those feeders. I use the 1/4 ratio as well and they love it! But I always feel bad when my feeder freezes up in the winter and the hummingbirds just sit at the feeder looking sad and cold! 🙂

  16. Love it!! We also make our own nectar and have hummingbirds for years. We have feeders in both the front yeard and the backyard that we can see from our windows. This year are fortunate to have a hummingbird nest in our lilac bush. My grandson loves to keep tabs on what the birds are doing. Can’t believe you were able to capture the birds on camera. Ususally by the time I get my camera, they are gone. Nice photos!!

  17. You are such an awesome photgrapher Heather!!! I love the angle of the photo you took of your son. I’m a photographer as well and I love seeing creative photography on blogs. By the way, love your blog!!! Keep up the good work. (:

    • Miss M – Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love taking photos. LOVE it. So I’m so glad they are appreciated. 🙂 And I’m glad you like the blog, too. 🙂

Send this to a friend