Making homemade hummingbird food is cheaper, easier, and healthier than buying pre-made food – and you only need 2 ingredients you already have! Find out how to make hummingbird nectar quickly and easily.
Make Homemade Hummingbird Food Once Spring Arrives
I cannot tell you just how much I love spring! Everything starts coming alive again, there’s a fresh smell in the air, and I love the budding trees and blooming flowers.
Spring seriously makes my soul sing. And it means that hummingbird season is starting!
As soon as I see azaleas and the forsythia bushes blooming in my yard (usually around late April or very early May), I know it’s time to start making homemade hummingbird food, since there’s not much else for them to feed on at that point.
Afterall, once the warm weather starts arriving and the flowers start blooming, the hummingbirds are close behind!
NOTE: If you live in a region that is colder than North Carolina’s climate, I recommend waiting to make DIY hummingbird nectar until you start to see the grass turning green, small flowers starting to come up from the ground, and the overnight temperatures staying above freezing.
How To Invite Hummingbirds and Enjoy Them
Hummingbirds might be some of the world’s smallest birds, but they flap their wings at an astounding average of ~50 beats per second! And it’s seriously cool to watch (and hear – it sounds like a miniature helicopter ‘whoop-whoop-whoop’)
All that flying burns some serious calories, so hummingbirds search out the natural flower nectar of approximately 1,000-2,000 flowers a day because they need to feed every 10-15 minutes.
Make some DIY hummingbird nectar and put it out to make their search a little easier – they’ll be grateful and come back for more!
The best way to enjoy hummingbirds is to set up feeders then sit and read a book outside (or sit on your porch and watch the world)! We’ve also seen male hummingbirds warning off other male hummingbirds – what a cool experience!
Why Make Homemade Hummingbird Food Instead of Buying it
Making this homemade hummingbird nectar recipe couldn’t be easier – seriously! It’s so easy to make, that it’s a GREAT project to have the kids can help you do. 😘
I used to buy commercial hummingbird nectar from the store, but I read one time that the National Audubon Society says that the red food coloring or dye is not only unnecessary but probably isn’t safe for hummingbirds.
Many companies and people put red food dye in hummingbird food to attract the birds (notice how they love red flowers? It’s the color they love!)
Since I want to keep hummingbirds healthy, I looked up homemade hummingbird food recipes because I thought they would be safer. Unfortunately, many recipes for homemade nectar contained red dye and other unnecessary ingredients. Bleh.
After a little more research, I started making this DIY hummingbird food recipe with 2 simple ingredients – NO food coloring – and have never looked back!
Making food for them is simple, takes little time, and is way cheaper than buying it from a store. Plus, it doesn’t contain red dye! I don’t put red dye in my food since it isn’t needed.
The best hummingbird feeders have a bright red color on it, which is a great way to attract the birds to the nectar!
How To Make Homemade Hummingbird Food
Skip buying store-bought hummingbird food and follow these simple directions (or grab the handy printable recipe at the end of the post) to make your own hummingbird nectar!
You just need TWO ingredients! This is SO easy! Gather together:
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 cups water
It’s as easy as 1…2…3! Are you ready? Let’s go!
To start the process, I clean my feeders and get them out and ready for the hummingbirds (see cleaning notes in the recipe).
It’s important to thoroughly clean your hummingbird feeders in between refills to ensure they don’t harbor bacteria or anything else that could harm your hummingbirds.
PRO TIP: I have two 32 oz Best Hummingbird Feeders and I LOVE them! They are the best in terms of being easy to use and clean!
Simply combine and boil sugar and water (see the water ratio in the recipe card below).
Boiling the water ensures that the ingredients are combined into nectar and removes any bacteria or other organisms that could make your hummingbirds sick.
DIY hummingbird food is simply cane sugar mixed with water…in other words, it’s natural nectar!
Hang your feeder outside in a spot (like your garden) where you can enjoy watching the hummingbirds. Don’t forget your Homemade Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent to keep the mosquitoes away!
Making homemade hummingbird food couldn’t be easier, right?!
Easy Homemade Hummingbird Food FAQs
Here are a few questions I often see readers ask about making this hummingbird foot nectar recipe. If you have a question but don’t see it answered down below, please leave it in the comments!
In the summer months when the weather is warm, you need to clean feeders frequently (every 3-4 days) to prevent bacteria growth that could hurt those beautiful hummingbirds.
Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water (this could be 1 cup of sugar with 4 cups of water or 1/2 cup sugar with 2 cups of water).
Do not add red dye or use honey, brown sugar, or artificial sweeteners in your hummingbird mixture.
No, technically, you don’t need to boil the water. You do, however, need to heat your water hot enough that it will dissolve the granulated sugar you’re mixing in.
I prefer to boil it because it has happened where I tried only heating it just enough and found undissolved sugar at the bottom of my feeder. Since then, I’ve been boiling it.
Remember, use pure white cane sugar ONLY. No raw sugars or other sweeteners are safe for hummingbirds.
Yes, tap water is usually just fine to use – especially because you’re boiling it.
Normally, I recommend a 4-to-1 ratio. However, a 3-to-1 hummingbird nectar ratio can be good for hummingbirds during the spring and fall migratory periods when they can use the extra calories.
Hummingbirds may not come to your feeder if you have 1 or more of these issues:
Unappealing nearby plants
Hummingbirds can’t find the feeder
Bees around the feeder
Fermenting hummingbird nectar
Potential predators nearby
Once your homemade hummingbird food is dissolved and has cooled to room temperature, it’s ready to put into the bird feeder.
Store any extra sugar water nectar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you see mold on any of your hummingbird nectar, dispose of it and make a new batch.
I recommend putting it in a place that gets part sun. Sunlight can help make a hummingbird feeder more visible to birds.
Unfortunately, direct sunlight can also make homemade hummingbird food spoil more quickly. The best place to position feeders is where they will get some sun (morning sun is best) but be shielded from the sun during the hottest part of the day.
Hummingbirds love a good nectar recipe, but so do bees, ants, wasps, hornets, and other insects that love sugar. Honey bees will swarm your hummingbird feeder when they don’t have other food sources nearby (usually early spring and late fall).
To make your hummingbird feeders less appealing to these insects, check the seals between the feeding ports and the reservoir to make sure there aren’t any leaks. Also, avoid overfilling the feeder because overfilling it will cause leaks (and attract unwanted small insects).
As with many things, I think using organic is best when possible (and not cost prohibitive). I haven’t found using organic to be a problem when I make this simple homemade hummingbird food recipe. However, this is one of those situations where I would say “done is better than perfect.”
If you can use organic sugar, GREAT. If you can’t, I think this easy hummingbird food recipe is still WAY better than store-bought hummingbird food!
How To Clean Hummingbird Feeders
It’s not hard to clean these feeders. But I have seen some readers ask about the process, so I thought I would include it here in case you’re wondering!
Check Out This Video Showing You How to Clean Your Birdfeeder
For anyone who prefers to watch tutorials, this is for you because it’s important – and easier than you may think!
Supplies Needed To Clean Feeders
Make sure you gather these items:
- hot tap water
- bottle brush
- dish soap
- white vinegar
When you clean your feeders, take care to rinse them out thoroughly so you don’t leave any dish soap or vinegar behind that could hurt those little guys.
- Remove any hummingbird food that’s still in the feeder.
- Rinse it out with hot water.
- Using a small amount of dish soap and a bottle brush, scrub down every part of the hummingbird feeder, inside and out.
- Rinse thoroughly with hot tap water.
- Run some white vinegar through the feeder to prohibit mold growth.
- Rinse thoroughly with hot tap water one more time.
How often should you clean your glass feeders?
In the cooler months, you could do it once every 7 days. However, in hot weather, you’ll want to clean them every 4-5 days.
Want Help Attracting Hummingbirds To Your Yard?
Even though the feeder itself is red, planting plants they like nearby helps attract the birds. These tiny birds are attracted to the color red, so pick flowers that have red, pots that are red or stickers – really anything except for dye! I think they also like bright colors in general (including pink and purple), but red is clearly their favorite.
In our yard, we have azaleas, angel-wing begonias (my favorites!), petunias, and impatiens, among other flowers in our yard.
Other plants they love and food sources include:
- Bee balm
- Cardinal flower
- Trumpet creeper
- Asiatic Lily
- Coral honeysuckle
Don’t miss these other great DIY activities for kids! Click the image below!
Homemade Hummingbird Feeder Recipe Tips
- I recommend replacing the nectar every 5 days…though I sometimes stretch it just a little longer.
- This is a case where more is better – aim to have at least 2 feeders, and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts!
- These tiny birds come back to the same feeders every year, so be sure to follow through and feed those incredible birds!
- Having red plants and flower pots nearby will help attract the birds to your feeders
- Make sure to thoroughly clean your hummingbird feeder before adding a fresh batch to it.
Important Tools For Making DIY Hummingbird Food
- Good quality feeders that are easy to clean and use
- Feeder brushes to make sure your feeders are thoroughly cleaned so the birds don’t get sick
Tell us in the comments: Do you have hummingbirds? Do you make DIY hummingbird food?
Pin For Later!
More fun hands-on DIY projects for the entire family!
If you love this homemade hummingbird food recipe and want more inspiration, use these ideas to get outside or just have fun!
- DIY Sensory “Grass” – a fun indoor play activity!
- Easy Glow in the Dark DIY Bath Bomb Recipe
- Easy Pet Rocks Craft Idea For Kids
- How To Make A DIY Nature Mandala Craft
- Fireworks Painting Craft Tutorial For Kids
|10-20 hummingbirds||5 minutes|
|Cook Time||Passive Time|
|10 minutes||15 minutes|
A simple and inexpensive homemade hummingbird food that will bring those incredible birds back year after year!
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, remove from heat.
- Stir in 1 cup of sugar until it's dissolved, let cool.
- Use a funnel to pour the cooled liquid into the hummingbird feeder.
- Place humminbird feeder outside.
- Refrigerate any leftover nectar in a sealed, air tight container.
Hummingbird feeder cleaning notes:
- I like having two feeders to ensure food is always available.
- When the food gets old, I make a new batch and put it out.
- Then I start the washing process of the old food container. I soak everything in warm soapy water, then use a special hummingbird cleaning brush to clean the bottle and lid.
- I also use toothpicks for the tiny holes on both sides of the lid. Make sure your feeder is very clean before allowing to air dry.
- Store for later use.
We have 3 feeders out. And get lots of hummers. We have a male who shoos others away from one of the feeders, like it’s his personal feeder. He doesn’t go to the other feeders. I love to watch them swoop in, grab a drink & zoom off & come back a few minutes later. Some of them are so colorful. I have a female who hovers about a foot away from me when I’m outside sometimes. It’s like she’s thanking me for feeding them. I love my hummers!!!
That is awesome, Lynn! I love stories like that! Thanks for sharing!
I also put out a protein feeder for my hummingbirds. Its larger, round and bright red. I put fruit in it like bananas, apples etc. It attracts .fruit flies which the hummingbirds live and it provides them with a great source of protein. I have the two feeders hanging next to one another on tall shepherds hooks.
Hi Susan! Thanks for sharing! I hadn’t heard about a “protein feeder” for hummingbirds – that is so cool! Have you seen any hummingbirds catch/eat the fruit flies?
First time setting up for hummingbird feeders.
I do have the honeysuckle. That attracts them.
What a wonderful sight.
It’s a good feeling knowing that you can contribute to their food chain.
Thank you for the information.
It’s fun, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy your hummingbirds!
Cindy Davis says
P.S. Your photos are great!! 🙂
Thank you, Cindy!
Cindy Davis says
Hey Heather. I know you from Bloggers Traffic Community.
I LOVE this!! Hummingbirds are incredibly wonderful little birds! I haven’t seen any in a long time, but I remember seeing them where I used to live, buzzing around a red-blooming vine in the yard. So, I can attest to their being drawn by the color red. I’d love to try feeding them.
Cindy, DIY Bohemian https://diybohemian.com/
Hey Cindy! Thanks for your sweet words! I love hummingbirds too, and the thing is that they are so easy to attract and enjoy! Good luck in your endeavors if you try to attract them to your yard!
Connie Clement says
Love my hummers, but will be leaving soon. I have 8 oz. feeders and I don’t fill them all the way. I find in hot humid weather the sugar water gets cloudy and funky in just a few day. They said they left theirs for several days no way do I do that ! I usually change mine every 3 days 4 at most. I don’t want those little guys getting sick.
This year we had a writhing spider web and I had a little female ruby throat get hung up as soon as I saw it I got her out got as much web off her and she flew off, they say will clean them selves so assume she did.
Then I moved the spider out of the area.
I am so happy when they arrive and sad when they leave, and I await their arrival in the spring. Hope all enjoy as much as I do!!
Thanks for the hummingbird feeder recipe. I always put mine out to late and I never get any hummingbirds. I’m going to try to remember it this year. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty
Shirley Wood says
We purchased a really pretty red feeder so we wouldn’t need the red dye anymore. Since moving into our new home last summer we haven’t seen may hummingbirds yet but they will find us! Looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday.
I’m looking to move to a small house this year. I would love to attract hummingbirds and have the plants they like and the hummingbird food. This sounds so fun. My sister feeds hummingbirds, they love watching them, and take pictures, too.
I love watching hummingbirds too! My family goes to a place up in the Colorado mountains each year to fish and hike, and that place has a TON of hummingbirds. It’s amazing to just sit and watch them do their thing. Good luck with your move this year, Rosie, and I hope you are able to get those hummingbirds to come to you! 🙂
caroline m. says
Thank you, I will use this recipe!
I hope it makes for some happy hummingbirds at your house!
Elise Cohen Ho says
People spend so much money on hummingbird food and it is so easy and cheap to make.
You are so right!
I have additional information regarding the feeding of hummingbirds your readers might want to know: I don’t remember where we found this guide, but the rules for when to change the sugar water depends on the outside temperature. From 71-75° is every 6 days, 76-80° is every 5 days, 81-84° is every 4 days, 85-88° is ever 3 days, 89-92° every 2 days, and 93°+ should be changed every day.
The sugar feeds the bacteria that hummingbirds bring in on their beaks, so it’s essential to change the sugar water according to the schedule above. Of course, you could also watch to see how much the birds drink so you can more accurately guess how much to supply. It isn’t necessary to fill the feeders. We make about 32 oz. (always 1 part sugar to 4 parts water), put the appropriate amount in the feeder (enough to feed the birds according to the outside temperature) and put the rest in the refrigerator. Bring the sugar/water solution to room temperature before filling the feeder.
Be sure to clean the feeder before adding more solution, or it will also become contaminated. Take care of the birds! Thank you, Fonda
Thank you for that additional info, Fonda! It is very helpful, and we really appreciate it!