Hummingbird Food Recipe Guide & All Your Nectar Related Questions [Answered]

Preparing food for hummingbirds is not difficult; you just need to know what they eat. There are two main sources of food for them. They like to eat insects to get some proteins, but mostly they rely on natural nectar from flowers.

If you are planning to feed them, you must know that you don’t need to give them the required protein( e.g., amino acids and calcium), which they get from invertebrates due to their week digestive system. We are strict about using pure nectar similar to natural flower nectar.

hummingbird food recipe
Hummingbird Food Recipe


If you want to make your nectar at home. The method is straightforward. All you need is water and sugar.

  1. Take 1 part of the sugar with four parts of water in a bowl.
  2. Stir the water with a spoon until the sugar is entirely dissolved in water.
  3. Your perfect nectar is ready to feed birds.

You can also read a detailed recipe here.

Instructions for feeding the birds with feeder

When your nectar is ready according to the above concentration, you are ready to feed the birds. You need a unique hummingbird feeder according to your need. When you get your desired feeder, and you are ready to feed the nectar to hummingbirds, you need to follow these steps:

1. Cleaning of Feeder:

Cleaning is the major part of feeding the birds. Make sure your feeder is cleaned correctly before purring the nectar into the feeder. Sometimes we don’t care about the cleaning, which is very harmful to a hummingbird’s health. Moreover, always check and clean the feeder regularly because sometimes some other insects and wasps are mix with nectar, which is very dangerous for birds.

Don’t leave even a drop of nectar on any feeder outside because it’s attracting the bees and wasps, which are very harmful to hummingbirds. Usually, bees are not dangerous for hummingbirds, but when they attack in groups, they become very toxic for birds. Moreover, In the presence of these bees, birds can’t feed properly with comfort.

2. Feeder Place:

Make sure to hang the feeder in the shade somewhere in average temperature. By putting the feeder at the average temperature, you don’t need to change the nectar every day. Moreover, try to rotate the feeder regularly to prevent your feeder from bees and ants. Any leftover nectar can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks. But make sure, not late than two weeks before the older nectar is very harmful to birds.

By concentrating on the above points, you can serve the hummingbirds with perfect nectar.

3. Natural vs. Homemade Nectar:

Hummingbirds get the natural nectar from the flowers. People also help feed the birds with homemade nectar. We can easily make perfect pure nectar in just 5 min, as explained above.

Below we will discuss the natural and artificial nectar composition thoroughly.

Natural Composition of Nectar:

In the natural nectar of flowers, there is a small amount of amino acid and electrolyte, which makes it very easy for the birds to digest it quickly and get the required energy. The primary source (sugar) is also available in natural nectar, the same as we add the white sugar in homemade nectar. Natural nectar has a concentration of sugar and water 1:4 approximately.

Homemade composition of nectar:

The composition of homemade nectar is close to natural nectar. We take 1 part sugar and 4 part water; actually, this is the approximately natural sugar concentration found in the natural flower nectar. We can’t get the exact sugar and water concentration by weight, that’s why we say approximately. So approximately we don’t need to deviate from 1:4. 1:4 is a simple homemade nectar composition that is mostly liked by the birds. However, we can increase or decrease the sugar level in artificial nectar, which has different effects on birds.

4. What? If you Change the Concentration of Sugar in Nectar?

Naturally obtained nectar from the flower has approximately 1:4 ratios of sugar and water, as we discussed above. But in homemade nectar, we can change the sugar concentration in water. We can increase or decrease the sugar concentration in water. Below are some results obtained by professionals after testing different concentrations.

Higher Concentration of Sugar:

Some people always questioned about the higher concentration of sugar in hummingbirds nectar. They need to add more sugar as compared to natural nectar. Yes, we can add more sugar in water as compared to natural nectar.

As we say, the natural composition is 1:4, but the higher concentration of sugar is not harmful to birds. Most of the professionals thought that hummingbirds like more concentration of sugar. Actually, the sugar gives some calories to birds so you can use more sugar concentration, but if you are feeding in hot weather, we suggest you go with a 1:4 ratio. Moreover, a higher concentration may have some digestion issues as the birds are regularly getting the usually concentrated nectar, so we are strict about using 1:4 of sugar and water in the nectar.

Lower concentration of sugar:

When there is a low concentration of sugar in nectar, it means hummingbirds need more nectar to fulfill their energy need. And the birds consumed more nectar to meet their energy requirement. They need to come again and again to maintain their energy level, which is not perfect for hummingbirds. Moreover, it’s not right for you as well because when the birds need more nectar to maintain their energy level, you need to make and refill the feeder with nectar again and again.

Moreover, weaker concentration is less attractive for birds because the natural nectar is sweeter, then lower concentrated nectar. You may see after some time birds don’t come to your feeder if you are using less concentrated nectar. So, if you want the birds to come to your feeder regularly, don’t go below the 1:4 concentrations.

5. Artificial Sweetness:

Artificial sweetness means those things which are not a main feature of sweetness. Please don’t use artificial sweet materials. Don’t use those materials in any condition, it may provide calories or not, but it causes very harmful effects on bids. Because these artificial materials have some other ingredients as well other than the sugar, which is not easily digestible for birds.

6. Use of Honey:

The sugar in our natural flower is like the daily use of white sugar. Although the bees collect the honey from the flower, they have some other nutrients as well, which are very harmful to birds. Honey is made up of glucose and fructose, which are not easily digestible for birds. Also, the mold and fermentation process occurs in honey more quickly, which can give a very harmful tongue infection to birds.


People were asking different questions about the nectar concentration, condition, and the feeding point of view. Below we have tried to clear all the concepts with reasonable answers.

As most of the natural flowers are red, so can we add red dye to our nectar to attract the birds?

Some people think that due to most red color natural flowers, the birds have more attraction towards red color as compared to others. It is also observed from some expert’s reviews that the birds are more attracted to red color. That’s why some people try to add red dye in the nectar to attract the hummingbirds towards their feeder.

Please don’t use the red dye in their nectar. It may cause serious health issues for them. Their digestive system is not too strong to digest any irregular food. You don’t need to add some extra color in your nectar to make it red. There is a lot of hummingbirds feeders in the market which come in red color so you can buy any red color feeder for bird’s attraction other than mixing the red dye in nectar.

Does the nectar available in stores work better?

Some people don’t have enough time to specially make separate nectar for hummingbirds. They always think about pre-made nectar to feed the birds. Yes, the pre-made nectar is available in markets; you can use this nectar if you don’t have enough time.

The nectar available in stores has the same sugar and water ratio, so you can use this pre-made nectar. But always try to make perfect fresh nectar at home. Because whenever you made nectar at home, you are sure about everything.  Although it’s don’t need much time to make it at home, If you still don’t have time at home to separately make unique nectar for birds, You can buy pre-made nectar to serve the birds.

How many days can I reserve the homemade nectar?

You can also make some extra nectar at home and reserved it for some days but don’t use too old nectar. It may cause harmful effects on birds. Whenever you made nectar at home, it depends upon the weather how long it will be fresh. But in any condition, make sure you don’t feed the birds with one week older nectar. You can reserve your nectar in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Moreover, it depends upon the humidity of the environment where the nectar is reserved.

Nectar in the feeder

Now, how long you can feed the birds with the same feeder nectar. Although it depends upon the weather and your feeder location, you don’t need to late a maximum of 2 or 3 days. If the weather is cold, you can use the same nectar feeder for 2 to 3 days, but if the weather is hot, you should change the nectar after one day. You can also place your feeder in the shade so that the nectar is remaining in good quality, and the birds can feed it with comfort in shade.

Can we Use Unrefined Sugar like Brown Sugar for Hummingbird Nectar?

We use the regular white sugar to make the perfect hummingbird nectar, but some peoples always ask can we use unrefined sugar, etc. White sugar is very light sugar as compared to unrefined sugar when we talk about the mineral concentration. Hummingbirds always preferred the nectar, which is perfectly matched with the natural flower nectar.

While when we talk about unrefined sugar like brown sugar, it contains a large number of minerals, which is a very harmful effect on the bird’s health. The bird’s digestive system is not like a human. They have a very weak digestive system, and usually, their digestive system is getting the nectar from natural flowers, which is easily digestible with fewer minerals concentration as compared to brown sugar. So don’t use the unrefined sugar to make your nectar.

Can We Use Corn Syrup In Hummingbird Feeder in Place of Nectar?

The regular white sugar is made up of light glucose and fructose molecules, which are very similar to the naturally found flower nectar molecules. On the other hand, the corn is made up of high dextrose and high maltose molecules which are very dangerous for hummingbird health. Corn also contains the more compels sugar molecules which are not easily digestible for hummingbirds.

If you add any portion of white sugar in corn syrup, it’s very quickly absorbed by birds. It’s not waited at all; the digestive system breaks it out. I don’t know from where you get that syrup, but be aware the light Karo and golden barrel also contain the salt and vanilla. So in my suggestion, don’t use that syrup; just use pure nectar, which is liked by the birds.

Can I Use Agave Nectar Instead of Sugar Nectar?

Agave is also included in artificial sweetness materials which are not perfect for hummingbirds. When we compared the agave with regular nectar from the natural flowers, it’s not making up of the same molecules. Actually, the agave is made up of plat’s sap rather than the flowers, so it’s don’t contain the sucrose as compared to natural nectar.

Sucrose is the dominant sugar available in natural flowers. So we are strict about using the white sugar nectar with ratio 1:4, which is closely related to natural nectar obtained from flowers. It’s the most attractive artificial nectar for birds.

Is the Fruit Juice is Better for Birds?

Don’t use the fruit juice in your feeder to attract the birds. Birds just need a simple white sugar solution 1:4 ratio with water, which perfectly matched with natural flower nectar. When you use the juice in your feeder, the other unwanted audience like bees and ants are more active, and they like it too much as compared to natural nectar. And in the presence of bees and ants, the hummingbirds can’t feed properly. Sometimes the bees and ants mix with nectar, which is very harmful to birds.

Sometimes the fruits are acidic. Moreover, the fruit juice contains fructose as compared to sucrose found in natural flowers. Both are similar but not the same, which is sometimes harmful effects on birds, so we are strict about using pure nectar.

Can we add some Supplements in the bird’s food to Give them some Boasts?

Amino acids are the building blocks of life, and the birds can’t get that only from flowers, although the flowers contain a small number of proteins and salts. Calcium is also mandatory for birds to strengthen their bones and to make the eggshells. That’s why the birds get all these nutrients from other insects. Usually, Hummingbirds steal the insects from the spider webs and maintain their calcium level. They also eat gnats and aphids.

Yes, the birds need all extra supplements for their other needs, but we are stick to their simple nectar food with a 1:4 ratio because their digestive system is not to string. So be safe and feed the birds with pure nectar. Moreover, the birds can get calcium and other nutrients from insects and invertebrates throughout the year.


So, these were all the F.A.Qs, and we tried to answer all questions with detail. If you still have a question, you can ask in comments. Thank you

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