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Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

By Amber 40
This post contains affiliate links. Click on my disclosure to find out more!

This versatile hummingbird nectar recipe will have your sweet little friends squeaking their thanks all year long!

hummingbird drinking hummingbird nectar recipe out of colorful hummingbird feeder
My hummingbirds descend on this homemade nectar in 5 secs flat every time!

Don’t feed your hummingbirds that nasty red dyed nectar ever again!

Although there is no evidence to suggest red dye in hummingbird nectar is harmful to the sweet babies, in my opinion, it’s a waste of money when is it’s so easy to make at home.

Especially when I guarantee you have all the ingredients for this hummingbird nectar recipe in your pantry at this very moment.

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar by SlimPickinsKitchen on Jumprope.

How to Make Hummingbird Nectar

Here is how to make hummingbird nectar in just a few quick steps:

  1. Pure white cane sugar: Pure white cane sugar is the most important ingredient when making homemade hummingbird nectar. Organic cane sugar, “raw” cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave syrup, artificial sweeteners or any unrefined sugars that are brown in color should NOT be used in homemade hummingbird nectar. Other sugars may be loaded w/ iron or are a rookery for germs and bacteria, all of which can be detrimental to hummingbirds. Pure white cane sugar is what works best! The only other substitute that may be ok is beet sugar, but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t vouch for how well it works.
  2. 3-4 cups of water: I’ve never used anything other than water straight from the tap, and my hummingbirds come back year after year, but any filtered water, spring water, or unchlorinated water will do just fine! As for the amount, the consensus says to use 3 cups of water during the winter months, and 4 cups of water during the spring and summer (and sometimes up to 5 or 6), but the ratio really all depends on your hummingbirds. The standard ratio for a hummingbird nectar recipe is 4:1, but 3:1 works great although it may spoil a bit quicker. On hot summer days, you can even try a 5:1 or 6:1 ratio. Play around with the ratio and see what works best for your babies! 
  3. DON’T USE RED DYE! There is no need to use any red food dyes in your homemade hummingbird nectar! The brightly colored glass and flowers on your hummingbird feeder will work to attract the hummingbirds much better than the harmful dye ever will.
  4. Bring the sugar and water to a simmer, stir until the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat, allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Fill your feeders w/ your hummingbird nectar (using a small funnel b/c it’s so much easier) and watch as your little birdies chirp and zip about in a fit of happiness and thanksgiving.
hummingbirds eating homemade hummingbird nectar from a feeder

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Tips

Here are some tips to keep your hummingbirds coming back year after year!

  1. Change the hummingbird nectar a minimum of once per week, but twice a week, or every 4 or 5 days, is best. But, take it from me, your hummingbirds will let you know when it needs to be changed! My little guys flit and flicker and zip and zoom around my head, chittering and chattering when they want their nectar changed. I even had one bonk me on the head last year because I didn’t have a feeder for them in my backyard!
  2. When changing the hummingbird nectar, make sure to dump out the full contents of the feeder and give it a good rinsing with very hot water before refilling. Don’t just add nectar to what’s already in there. That’s just nasty.
  3. This hummingbird nectar recipe is great because you can make one big batch and store it in a glass jar, or another air-tight container, for up to two weeks. It makes enough to fill up two large hummingbird feeders halfway (or several smaller ones) and change them out over the course of two weeks.
four hummingbirds around a hummingbird feeder

Hummingbird Feeders

Do you use glass hummingbird feeders? Or plastic?

All of my hummingbird feeders are glass. I find the plastic ones are easier to mold and harder to clean. Plus, glass hummingbird feeders are prettier and attract more birds!

When do you put out hummingbird feeders?

To catch the early birds, hummingbird feeders should be put out Mid-March.

When do you bring in hummingbird feeders?

Bring hummingbird feeders back in sometime between October 1st and Thanksgiving, but if you live in a warmer climate (like I do here in South Carolina) you can even keep them out year-round. Just make sure to keep the hummingbird nectar recipe from freezing.

What’s the best way to go about cleaning hummingbird feeders?

Cleaning hummingbird feeders is super simple! Give them a bath for an hour or so in a simple solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. Then use a curved bottle brush or pipe cleaners to give them a good scrub down before allowing them to dry completely. See! Easy peasy!

four hummingbirds around a hummingbird feeder

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

This homemade hummingbird nectar recipe will have your sweet little friends squeaking their thanks all day long!
5 from 17 votes
Print Rate
Keyword: hummingbird feeder, hummingbird food, hummingbird nectar, hummingbird nectar recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Amber

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

How to Make Hummingbird Nectar:

  • Combine sugar and water in a pot over medium heat on the stove.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Allow the hummingbird nectar to cool to room temperature.
  • Using the funnel, fill your feeders halfway full then hang outside for your flittering babies to enjoy!
  • Store extra hummingbird nectar in a glass jar, or another air tight container, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SlimPickinsKitchen or tag #ministrymeals!

Notes

*The standard ratio is 4:1, but 3:1 works great although it may spoil a little quicker. On hot summer days, you can even try a 5:1 or 6:1 ratio. Play around and see what works best for your babies! 
Hummingbird nectar recipe pinterest image
Love y'all!
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40 Comments
  • Pamela Gotham
    May 20, 2021

    It’s horrifying to read that you suggest 1 c sugar to 3 (or 4 c) water ratio to prepare Hummingbird nectar. Every Audubon and University web rweb site will tell you it’s a 1c sugar to 4 c water ratio. And then you talk about just rinsing out the container. Jesus Christmas. You’ve got to scrub that thing with vinegar water or add a tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water and scrub it out. Never use dish soap. Never put it in the dishwasher. For Pete’s sake you live in the Carolinas where Hummer feeders should be cleaned every other day. Ever 4-5 days or once a week or so. Get your information right lady. You don’t deserve to call yourself an award-winning blogger, writer etc. Print a correction and stop helping people kill Hummers.

    • Amber
      May 20, 2021

      Hi, Pamela- I appreciate your comment although I feel you could have gotten your point across without the condescending tone. I do wonder…did you READ the post in its entirety or just the recipe itself? As an award-winning blogger and writer, I can assure you my words were thoroughly researched before written.

      If you go back, you can see in my post I mentioned using a 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, and 6:1 ratio and suggested readers test the ratios to see which ones their hummers preferred because my readers come from all over the world. I choose the 3:1 ratio because it is the ratio that most mimics nature and “…several published studies have found that the sucrose concentration of the nectar in hummingbird flowers is 23.9%, and concludes that, “If we wanted to duplicate the sugar content of flowers in our feeders, we would use a recipe of 1 C sucrose : 3 C water, which results in a sucrose concentration of 22.5% (w/w).” You can learn more about this article written by the LSU Museum of Natural Science here.

      So, if I do update the article, I will include THIS fact.

      You then mentioned, “just rinsing out the container” wasn’t sufficient and it “should be cleaned every other day” and “add a tablespoon of bleach” when the National Audobon Society’s website contradicts you entirely. I never wait until my bird feeders are empty or moldy because my babies tell me when they’re ready for their nectar to be changed.

      Per the National Audobon Society Website:

      Q: How often should I empty and clean the feeder?

      A: In hot weather, the feeder should be emptied and cleaned twice per week. In cooler weather, once per week is enough. If your hummingbirds empty the feeder with greater frequency, clean it every time it’s empty. Cleaning with hot tap water works fine, or use a weak vinegar solution. Avoid using dish soaps, as this can leave harmful residue in the feeder.

      Again, thanks for your comment, and I hope you learned something new today 🙂

  • Liz
    December 23, 2021

    We have several humming birds near our house. I bought a small feeder and we are trying this recipe for the first time. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Amber
      January 4, 2022

      Awesome! Let me know how they love it!

  • Susan Riley
    January 14, 2022

    Love this recipe!!! Works great on my little friends!

    • Amber
      January 14, 2022

      Yaaaaaaay! So happy your birdie babies love it! 💜

  • Cindy Sykes
    February 8, 2022

    Amber,
    I must say you handled Pamela’s feedback in such a professional way. I was very impressed. You meant what you said and said what you meant!
    You go girl! I to plan on using your recipe. Thank you for sharing.
    Take Care,
    Cindy S. from Southern California

    • Amber
      February 8, 2022

      Thank you so much! I thoroughly research and test all of my recipes, especially ones like this one, so I don’t appreciate when people attack me for no good reason (especially when it’s obvious she just jumped to the recipe). I appreciate your comment, and let me know how your little friends love it!

  • Nancy
    February 21, 2022

    Wow…. Miss Amber, your response to Miss Pamela was so classy. Im always so impressed with people who have the patience to deal with nasty people. I would not have handled her so kindly.

    Thank you Miss Amber for all you do. God Bless.

    • Amber
      February 28, 2022

      Thank you so much! My mama taught me well 💜

  • Verna
    February 28, 2022

    Thanks so much. My hummingbirds are nesting again on the orange trees. I can see them through the window. This is my first try at making the nectar.

    • Amber
      February 28, 2022

      Aren’t they the cutest when they sit in the trees?!? I promise you’ll never go back to buying it again once you make it! And you’ll be shocked at how quickly your little babies will descend on it once you put it out! Wait and watch for them if you can. Mine usually come out within 30 seconds to 1 minute when I first put out the feeders. It’s crazy! Let me know how they like it!

  • Craig
    March 4, 2022

    Ms Amber,
    I read with interest of your ongoing tussle with a brain tumor. So happy you continue to write.

    My Gayle wrestled with a similar condition some years ago. She was a college professor and taught throughout. She made a difference for her students and our daughter. You have a wider audience and are making a difference too.

    Sincerely,

    Craig

    • Amber
      March 5, 2022

      Thank you so much, Mr Craig! I appreciate your comment so much. Writing helps me get through this whole mess, and it’s comments like your that help me push through 💖

  • Diane Rubino
    March 19, 2022

    The article was well researched and very helpful! The nasty response from that one person made it obvious that she did not read the article! Would appreciate any tips on positioning the feeders to draw the most hummingbirds. I live in southern New Jersey (if climate is a factor).

    • Amber
      March 23, 2022

      Hi, Diane! Thank you so much for your comment! There are a few factors that could go into the placement of your feeders. I have mine in a shady spot around a bunch of big, bright flowers, right in front of my work window so I can write while watching them eat. Here’s a great article I found on placement tips. Hope this helps! https://morebirds.com/blogs/news/where-to-hang-your-hummingbird-feeders

  • Lisa M.
    March 31, 2022

    Thank you for this! The only comment I would make is that your (super adorable) hummingbird feeder has yellow on it – which is attractive to wasps. Wasp’s stings contain enough venom to be lethal to tiny hummers. I reluctantly traded my yellow out for solid red – not nearly as cute but safer for the little guys. I guess wasp’s are supposed to be super predators and take out lots of bugs that harm garden plants but I still can’t embrace their crabby dispositions. I have found I need to use a non-toxic detergent and scrub my feeders out often as they will develop a biofilm – even if I change them every 4 days or so in cooler weather. As you’re obviously a hummingbird fan, I may be preaching to the choir (grimace) but thought it was worth mentioning! Thank you again for making this available.

    • Amber
      April 1, 2022

      Thank you so much for that information! That is such great advice. I have considered getting some wasp traps to put around my house because they do like to hang around a lot, and your comment has made me think that I’m definitely buying them now. You’ll be happy to know I have a new feeder now, and I don’t have the one with yellow on it anymore. Thanks so much for your awesome comment! I greatly appreciate it!

  • Delia
    April 1, 2022

    Great Notes and Great Hummingbird food recipe 👍. Take Care of the Little Ones ❣️

    • Amber
      April 1, 2022

      Thank you so much, Delia! So happy you love it! We gotta keep out little babies happy!

  • Maria Osso
    April 14, 2022

    I like your feeder, where can I purchase one?

    • Amber
      April 21, 2022

      Thank you so much! I got it at Old Time Pottery in North Charleston which has since closed. Try places like TJ Max, Ross, and Homegoods! They have some great ones as well.

  • Grover Conde
    April 21, 2022

    My wife was buying the high-dollar red stuff. A friend recommended your recipe, saved money and the li’l varmints love it. Such a blessing watching them outside our kitchen. God bless you.

    • Amber
      April 21, 2022

      This is so exciting!!! I’m so happy your family and your little hummys love the recipe, and that’s so awesome a friend recommended it to you too! I’m flattered and thrilled you can now save your family some cash 🥰

  • Debby Romanwoski
    May 6, 2022

    I found your information to be very helpful. I know now more then I did about humming bird feeders and the homemade syrup. Last year I wish I had this information, because I know I made some mistakes. I’m sorry some people have to be mean about things, but I think you where very helpful. Thank you! Debby from Pennsylvania.

    • Amber
      May 11, 2022

      Thank you so much, Ms Debby! I appreciate you too!!!

  • Nancy
    May 8, 2022

    Great recipe and the babies love it! Thank you.

    • Amber
      May 11, 2022

      Yay! So happy, Nancy! Thanks for the comment!

  • Gayle
    May 8, 2022

    I just found your blog and I really love it!
    Thanks for the hummingbird nectar recipe.(s) and explaining the different ratios.
    Not really sure why that certain person got so hostile, as your recommendations were spot on from the research I just did.
    Keep up the good work !

    • Amber
      May 11, 2022

      Thank you so much, Gayle! I appreciate your kind words. Sometimes people have nasty things to say without actually reading the post 🤷🏻‍♀️

  • Bob Caffyn
    May 8, 2022

    Hi Amber, I live on the New Jersey Shore, just north of Atlantic City. We have tried feeders several times in the past with no success. My wife always bought the pre-mix from the store, maybe that was the reason? It’s the beginning of May here and still cool outside, I’m gonna try your recipe and see. We winter feed to a collection of finches, sparrows, red-winged blackbirds grackles and starlings. Coopers hawks come by for an occasional snack and living on the water, we’ve got plenty of duck species!. Have seen an occasional green hummer zip by, so they’re around. Wish me luck!

    • Amber
      May 11, 2022

      Hey, Bob! I’m sending you all of the hummingbird wishes! I hope you get some little green friends who enjoy this mixture. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Maria
    May 9, 2022

    I loved the in livened read of the recipe and the ease of it. Thank you so much for sharing your cuisine gene with the public. Opulent blessings to you sister! ✨💖

    • Amber
      May 11, 2022

      Thank you so much, Maria!!! So happy you enjoyed the post!

  • Mike Kusuplos
    May 11, 2022

    Simple and quick, I love it!

    • Amber
      May 11, 2022

      Yay! So happy! Thanks so much, Mike!

  • Starr
    May 11, 2022

    Amber thank you for this blog. Has anyone asked you where you got that beautiful glass feeder pictured above? I’d love to get one. Thanks bunches.

    • Amber
      May 11, 2022

      Hey, Starr! Thank you so much! I’m thrilled. I got the feeder at a store called Old Town Pottery here in Charleston, but it has since gone out of business. I have seen similar ones at places like Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Homegoods!

  • Gary
    May 12, 2022

    Hi Amber, just reading your instructions on making hummingbird nectar and wanted to thank you. We recently got back from Maggie Valley NC where we purchased a hummingbird feeder and are looking forward to getting it up and hopefully seeing some of these little hummers enjoy a new food source. We weren’t sure how to make the nectar and we’re glad to have found your website. Sounds like you really care about hummingbirds. Thanks for your information!!! By the way, you handled the nasty post from Pamela very professionally and didn’t sink to her level! Shows a lot of class!!

    • Amber
      May 26, 2022

      Thank you so much! I grew up going to Maggie Valley every summer with my grandparents. Love it so much. Hope the recipe worked for you!

    Sli