Keep the hummingbirds healthy and happy by providing the best environment and food with properly prepared sugar water (homemade nectar), and feeders that let them rest while they dine.
Waiting for the annual migration? We have a live hummingbird migration map here tracking their journey through the United States and Canada.
Hummingbirds are one of my favourite garden visitors each year. They are wild, aggressive, playful, and curious all at once. This one fell in love with our cat!
If you are going to feed hummingbirds (or any wild life), be sure you know what is best for them and how to keep it safe.
- Moldy or incorrectly prepared sugar water can kill the birds and you may never know it because they get ill and die elsewhere.
- Never use red dye in your hummingbird food. It is not safe for the hummingbirds. A red feeder will attract them.
Wild bird care requires regular upkeep. If you are going to be away from home or unable to wash your feeders and clean your bird baths every few days, put them away until you return. The birds are better off that way.
Recipe for Hummingbird Sugar Water
How to Make Hummingbird Food
This recipe mimics the ratio of sugar found in the natural nectar of flowers hummingbirds have co-evolved with.
- Only use white granulated sugar when preparing sugar water for hummingbirds. If you can get organic sugar, all the better.
- Never use brown sugar, honey, powders, or food colours in hummer feeders. They cause a range of problems including rapid bacteria and fungi growth and the potential spread of disease.
Hummingbird Sugar Water Recipes
- Tiny Batch: 1/8 cup sugar: 1/2 cup water
- Small Batch: 1/4 cup sugar: 1 cup water
- Medium Batch: 1/2 cup sugar: 2 cups water
- Large Batch: 1 cup sugar: 4 cups water
Preparation – Small Batch
- Prepare a sugar solution with 1 part white granulated sugar and 4 parts water (e.g. 1 cup sugar and 4 cups water).
- Boil until the sugar dissolves, and allow to cool before adding it to your feeder.
Alternately, you can first boil the water for 5 minutes and then dissolve the sugar in it while it is still hot.
- Keep unused sugar water in the fridge.
- Change sugar water and clean feeders regularly (every few days in cool weather—several times a day in hot weather).
This post explains how to properly clean and care for bird feeders.
How to Choose a Hummingbird Feeder
Look for a feeder that:
- Choose a modest size feeder (not big). Why? Because it spoils in the heat and you should change it every day or two depending on weather. There is no point in putting out more than a few ounces of nectar when most will be thrown out later.
Only get a large capacity hummingbird feeder if you get entire flocks that will consume many ounces per day.
- Pick a style that offers a resting perch while drinking so they don’t have to waste energy hovering.
- Pick a feeder that will be easy to clean. You’ll want to be able to get a bottle scrubber in all of the parts to ensure the feeder is kept mold-free.
I use this style of hummingbird feeder in my garden. It’s easy to take apart and access every part for cleaning. You can see it here at Amazon.
Ants on Your Hummingbird Feeder?
I hope you enjoy feeding these wonderful birds as much as I do. If you’re a super fan, try taking my Hummingbird Quiz.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛