EASY Hummingbird Nectar Recipe (only TWO ingredients)

Are you looking for a proven hummingbird nectar recipe?

If so, you have come to the right place. I use the following recipe, along with millions of other enthusiasts, to attract lots of hummingbirds every summer. And make sure you keep reading (or CLICK HERE) to see answers to EIGHT commonly asked questions regarding homemade hummingbird food.

Here is the SIMPLE Hummingbird Nectar Recipe You Should Use:

  • The whole process takes less than 5 minutes, and that includes cleanup!

easy and simple nectar recipe to make hummingbird food

Ingredients and Materials:

  • Hot water -I use tap water from my sink. But if your local water supply is tainted with heavy metals, I recommend using filtered water.

Directions:

  • In a mixing bowl or glass, combine 1 cup of sugar with 4 cups of hot water. The ratio for hummingbird nectar is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, so if this recipe makes too much or not enough for your specific food needs, it’s easy to adjust accordingly.
  • Mix the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Making sure the water is hot will help dissolve the sugar.
  • You have hummingbird nectar! I would let the mixture cool to room temperature before filling your feeders. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To see this recipe in action, watch this LIVE hummingbird camera!

YouTube video

As long as it’s daylight, you are almost guaranteed to see hummingbirds feeding on nectar made from the above recipe. Incredibly, these feeders, located in California, need to be refilled at least three times per day, and the owner has to buy 50-pound bags of sugar regularly!


8 COMMON Questions About This Nectar Recipe


#1. Do I REALLY just use regular table sugar and water to make hummingbird nectar?

Yes! It is that easy! And here’s why:

Natural nectar found in flowers is mostly a sucrose solution. Luckily, white sugar is also made of sucrose, so when mixed with the appropriate amount of water, it closely resembles natural nectar in flowers.

Don’t try to get fancy and use honey, brown sugar, or an artificial sweetener in your recipe. These won’t work, nor will these ingredients be good for hummingbirds! Instead, please stick to plain old white sugar.


#2. Should I boil the water to make hummingbird nectar?

Whether you should boil the water when making your homemade nectar is a debated topic. Hummingbird enthusiasts that recommend boiling the water claim that boiling removes any impurities (bacteria, fungus) in the water and helps the nectar last longer.

But nature is not a clean place and is full of bacteria. As soon as the first hummingbird sticks their tongue in the feeder, they have introduced bacteria, negating the point of boiling the water.

Personally, I do not boil the water when I make my hummingbird food.

I use hot water that comes out of my sink. The only reason I use hot water instead of cold is to help the sugar dissolve more quickly.

But no harm can be done by boiling the water. If it makes you feel better, then please boil away! 🙂


#3. Should I add red dye to hummingbird nectar?

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, so many people wonder if adding red dye to the nectar will help attract more hummers. It’s a great question and has a simple answer.

Don’t add red dye to your hummingbird food!

The effects of consuming red dye are unclear, and studies have shown potential health consequences for hummingbirds. And putting red dye in nectar is unnecessary to attract hummingbirds. Just make sure that the nectar feeder you purchase has a red top or base.


#4. Does pre-made hummingbird nectar work better than homemade hummingbird nectar?

No.

For example, here is a list of ingredients for Kaytee’s “Ready To Use” ElectroNectar, a popular pre-made nectar solution that I have purchased in the past.

don't buy premade nectar

COMPARE PRICES!

Amazon | Chewy

The “Ready To Use” ElectroNectar has almost the same ratio of sugar (Sucrose – 20%) to water (Moisture – 80%) that is recommended in the hummingbird recipe above.

For the record, it’s okay if you want to buy pre-made nectar. Just make sure you don’t buy pre-made nectar because you think it’s superior to the hummingbird food you can make in your own home.


#5. How long does homemade hummingbird food last?

As a general rule, the hotter the weather, the quicker the nectar will ferment and spoil. How long your nectar stays fresh depends on both the weather, the humidity, and if your hummingbird feeder hangs in the shade or sun.

Below are some general guidelines for how long your nectar will last, but it’s impossible to predict because of the variables. No matter what, I wouldn’t let your nectar sit for more than a week outside, even if it is cool and in the shade. If the nectar starts looking cloudy or has anything gross floating around, it’s spoiled, and it’s time to change and clean your feeder!

  • Cooler weather or in the shade: 4-7 days
  • Hot weather or in the sun: 2-3 days
  • Extra nectar kept in the refrigerator: up to 2 weeks

Don’t let your nectar spoil, rot, or become moldy! Old and gross food discourages the hummingbirds you worked hard to attract from visiting again. The hummers will quickly move on to other food sources, negating potentially months of hard work and patience. Once you have earned their trust, you will need to work hard to keep it!


#6. Can I use honey in a hummingbird nectar recipe?

No. Adding honey to this nectar recipe will not help and can be dangerous to hummingbirds. This is because when honey mixes with water, it ferments rapidly, which spoils the nectar and creates an environment that lets bacteria and fungus thrive.

If hummingbirds feed on rotten nectar, it can lead to a deadly infection that makes their tongues swell. In fact, it makes their tongue so large that they have trouble fitting it back into their bill. Unfortunately, this sickness almost always leads to a slow death.

And if you’re still not convinced, think about this fact:

Hummingbirds don’t eat honey naturally!

Have you ever heard about a hummingbird raiding a honey bee nest? Honeybees are not even native to North America, so at no point in history did hummingbirds evolve to eat honey or have access to the stuff except for the last few hundred years.

Just stick to the simple nectar recipe for 1 part white sugar and 4 parts water. It’s human nature to try and improve everything, but this is an example where more intervention harms hummingbirds.


#7. Is nectar the only food that hummingbirds eat?

I asked this question the first time I made nectar at home and realized that hummingbird nectar is basically a fancy name for sugar water! There had to be something of substance they also ate to supplement their diet?

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe and Food Guide

Upon more research, I learned that hummingbirds get their protein by feasting on small insects and arthropods (spiders).

So to attract as many hummingbirds as possible, I don’t use any insecticides in my yard. I want there to be plenty of bugs for them to eat.

Here is an easy tip to provide lots of fruit flies for hummingbirds to eat.

Take any bananas or other fruit that is ready to spoil, and place it outside in an easy spot to observe. The old fruit is naturally going to attract lots of fruit flies, which should attract hummingbirds for an easy meal.


#8. What if I make a more concentrated sugar solution for my hummingbird nectar?

You might be thinking that if hummingbirds love a nectar solution that contains 1 part sugar to every 4 parts water, they will go crazy over a recipe that doubles the amount of sugar!

Unfortunately, adding more sugar won’t help! If the nectar becomes too sweet or concentrated, it’s not going to resemble what hummingbirds find in flowers naturally and can become problematic for them to digest.

As tempting as it can be to add more sugar, stick to the tried and true hummingbird food recipe found above.


What other questions do you have about making hummingbird nectar?

Please ask below so we can all help each other.

Thanks for reading!

Scott

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58 Comments

  1. The best way Iv found 2 handle such situations is 2 hang more than 1 feeder if possible. They can b quiet territorial. On a good note, u have multiple hummers ☺ so u just have 2 help them learn 2 live 2gthr peacefully. Good luck

  2. A feeder can b placed on n near a window. Hummers will use them just the same. Window feeders can actually b purchased. They are made with lil suction cups or a suction cup n hook 2 hang the feeder.

  3. I began the hummer season with boiled nectar, then switched to the hot water/sugar mixture. After the switch I haven’t seen very many hummers. I switched back to boiling Water/sugar nectara. Do hummers have a Preferance?

  4. I purchased the Blown Glass Gnome Humming Bird feeder last year. I chose glass because it gets cleaner than plastic when cleaned. I know Hummers are attracted to the color red and was concerned it wouldn’t attract Hummers, but have had no issues doing so, As there appears to be enough red in the glass and the base to do so and I don’t add red food coloring to the nectar mixture.
    Grateful Gnome Hummingbird Feeder for Outdoor Hanging Hand Blown Glass Large Blue Egg with Flowers 36 Fluid Ounces Kit Includes S-Hook, Ant Moat and Brush https://a.co/d/5ezkaUH

  5. I have heard you should use only plain ol’ white sugar–NOT organic sugar. Then I read it’s perfectly OK to use organic. Who do we believe?

  6. Agree it makes sense to use bottled or distilled water to keep the nectar fresh. I don’t want to think I made a little bird sick because of my carelessness.

  7. I’ve had Orioles raid my Hummingbird feeder. It’s OK unless the Oriole is a bully that chases the Hummees away.

  8. Water doesn’t need to be warm (or hot) . Cold (or room temp) water works fine. The sugar will dissolve if you stir/shake it sufficiently. Saves you the trouble of waiting for it to cool off.

    Question: the email I got that pointed me to this article mentions hummingbirds AND orioles. No mention of orioles in the article. Is the same nectar used for orioles as for hummingbirds?

    I have an oriole feeder in which I can put grape jelly and oranges (haven’t attracted any yet). I want to add a nectar feeder. Orioles are attracted to orange (color), not red (as far as I know). So I assume a hummingbird feeder shouldn’t be used for this purpose? Is it ok to include orange dye, and if so, does it help?

    1. Don’t use orange dye. You should buy a separate nectar feeder for orioles because the feeding ports are bigger to allow them to drink.

  9. I use the four-to-one ratio throughout the hummingbird season, except in extreme weather. At the very beginning of the season when it’s still cold, or at the end, when they’re getting ready to migrate, I use slightly more sugar (they need a bit more energy when it’s cold, or to prep for migration), and in extreme heat I use slightly more water (they need more water in the heat, and if they drink enough nectar to satisfy their water needs, they’re likely getting more sugar than they need with the strict 4-1 ratio).

  10. If I use the nectar extender do I put it into the water and sugar I mix and put into the fridge? I’m not sure if I put it in when I mix a batch of nectar or only put it in the nectar when I’m ready to fill a feeder. I’ve read I can keep nectar in the fridge for two weeks. If I fill a feeder with two week old nectar (from fridge) how long can it stay in the feeder? Thanks!

  11. I agree with previous comments, in school we did an experiment on using hot tap water. It leaches metals out of the piping which easily was detectable, even if it isn’t a lot, it is significantly more than cold water, and in the long run is not good for humans, so we were told don’t ever use hot tap water when cooking food, and I bet humming birds are way more sensitive than humans. Also public water has added chemicals that can be reduced by boiling the water.

  12. There’s never more than one bird at my feeder at a time. Its a constant war out there among those humming birds who gets to feed. I would enjoy it more if they could just eat together peacefully like I see in the above picture.

  13. More on boiling… I believe it has to do with the quality of your water supply. Our water tastes just okay when it is fresh out of the tap, but if I fill a water bottle and let it sit for a few days, it develops a foul odor. While my feeder needs to be refilled on average every other day (it can vary, sometimes up to three days), I don’t want to introduce any bacteria that the birds don’t find in their natural environment (I’m pretty sure they can’t operate my faucets). Those bacteria they bring to their table are likely not the same as those in our municipal environment source (deemed safe by the water district, but I bet they don’t test it after it’s sat around in a closed container for several days). Okay, I’ve said my peace. 🙂

  14. I use the same ratio (4 parts water to one part sugar) as you suggest, in a large Pyrex measuring cup. However, I use cold water, use a whisk to dissolve the sugar, then to ensure a sterile mixture, I bring it to a boil in the microwave for at least two minutes. I let it cool *completely* before putting it into another sealed glass container, which I keep outdoors so that when it comes time to refill the feeder, it is at ambient temperature, which they seem to prefer over nectar that is much warmer or cooler than surrounding air. I enjoy LOTS of hummingbirds. Some allow others to join them at the feeder, and some alpha males jealously guard the feeder when they’re around, chasing off all would-be sippers!

  15. I find by using the same sugar water that I use in my hummingbird feeder‘s and put it into wasp traps works quite good.

  16. NOW I need to know about oriole nectar… I have the oranges and the grape jelly but doesn’t the nectar need to have a flavor besides sugar? Or a color?

    1. Nope, just use 1 part table sugar and 4 parts water. That mimics the nectar found in flowers! Don’t add anything else.

  17. I like to put the red ring from a milk jug (washed) into the feeder with the nectar. That way I can easily see the level of the liquid without having to go inspect it. When it gets lower, I know I need to get started making more!

  18. Hi Scott,
    How do i keep bees and yellow jackets off my feeders in the summer??
    Thanks,
    Dawn