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Last Updated on April 4, 2022

If you want to encourage more hummingbirds to visit your yard and enjoy their morning and afternoon visits, then what better way to attract more birds than by learning how to make sugar water for hummingbirds? Making your own sugar water for your backyard birds will allow you to create the perfect sugar to water ratio that closely mimics the nutrition that these birds get from the sweetest flowers in your yard. Making your own nectar is also a great idea since so many types of commercial nectars contain ingredients that can be potentially harmful to hummingbirds.

The Right Recipe

Who doesn’t love hummingbirds? These tiny, lightning-fast, colorful birds will flit in and out of your yard in the blink of an eye, in search of food or a nice, safe place to rest. These birds naturally live off of the nectar from flowering plants and also eat insects. They don’t require the sugar water we give them, in order to survive, but it does work to supplement their diets.

When you’re making your own nectar for hummingbirds, it’s important to keep it simple. You don’t need to go overboard and dye the nectar. Instead, focus on the recipe and worry about attracting the hummingbird using a brightly colored hummingbird feeder, such as the More Birds Glory Hummingbird Feeder. Many bird feeders for hummingbirds are brightly colored to attract the bird since they associate the colors red and orange with the sweetest flower.

Now, for the recipe.


When you’re preparing the nectar, it’s important that you pay close attention to the water to sugar ratio, in order to create sugar water that closely mimics the amount of sugar that’s found in flower nectar. Most nectar recipes will consist of just granulated sugar that’s dissolved in boiling water.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • One part of white granulated sugar
  • Four parts boiled water

Make sure you use white granulated sugar only and avoid using powdered sugars, sugar substitutes, brown sugar, or honey. Keep in mind, raw, natural, and organic sugars may have a very high iron content, which is bad for hummingbirds. Using any of these products can cause a wide range of issues in birds, including rapid fungi growth, bacteria growth, and illness.

Before you begin making the nectar, make sure your hummingbird feeders are clean and ready to go.

To make the nectar, begin by boiling the water. Once the water has reached a boil, you’ll add the sugar. The boiling water will cause the sugar to rapidly dissolve, which will make it easier for you to mix.

If you only have a single feeder, then you can whip up a smaller batch and use one cup of water with a quarter cup of sugar.

For a medium-sized batch, you’ll use two cups of water and half a cup of sugar.

For a bigger batch, mix four cups of water with one cup of sugar.

The mixture should be allowed to boil after the sugar has been added for a total of five minutes. Allow the mixture to cool off and reach room temperature before you pour it into the waiting bird feeders. If there is any leftover nectar place it in a jar with an airtight lid and store it in the fridge for up to five days. Make sure you add an expiration date on the jar so you can toss it out promptly. Nectar can spoil, which can pose health issues if you give it to birds.

Proper Maintenance and Care

If you’ve decided to feed the hummingbirds that visit your yard, make sure you use the best hummingbird feeder, one that comes with plenty of nectar ports, and is easy to refill and clean. When you’re shopping for a feeder, make sure you buy one that has a small tank or water bottle area. This is because sugar water spoils fairly quickly, especially in hot weather, so using a smaller feeder will cause you to fill it more frequently, which can prevent birds from feeding on spoiled sugar water. Make sure you clean the feeders often and choose a feeder that’s easy to clean out. The feeder should also come with several perches that will allow a hummingbird to rest while they eat. If the type of feeder you purchase has a dispenser bottle, choose a glass one over a plastic model since glass tends to last longer and plastic can quickly turn yellow.

Replacing Nectar

As you know by now, hummingbird nectar can ferment or spoil. If a bird drinks the spoiled nectar, it’s not likely to return to your yard a second time.

The sugar water must be changed regularly, even if it doesn’t look like it’s been touched. When it’s hot out, the nectar should be changed every two days. In milder weather, you can hold off and change the nectar once every five days.

In order to protect the nectar and prevent it from spoiling faster, you can place the feeder in a location that gets a nice mix of shade and sun throughout the day. If the feeder is placed in a location that gets too much sun it can cause the nectar to heat up, which will cause it to spoil or start fermenting in a matter of two to three hours. However, it’s also not a good idea to place the feeder in an area that’s shady all day long. When the feeder is placed in a very shady area it will make it harder for hummingbirds to catch sight of it.

If you see any black residue in the feeder or it’s cloudy, then make sure you clean it out immediately using bleach.

Where to Place Your Feeders

Hanging a bird feeder is pretty simple since many of these models will come with their own hooks, rope, or wire. The best place to put a hummingbird feeder will be in a secure area in the yard, one that will allow a bird flying over your yard to easily spot the feeder while protecting the birds that do visit the feeder from predators in your yard. If possible, try to avoid hanging the feeder on your house or a tree branch, since this can make it easier for cats to pounce on a bird that’s distracted with their meal. I recommend purchasing a pole for this purpose. This will make it hard for predators to reach the birds and will make the birds feel more secure and more likely to revisit your yard. Many of these poles will also allow you to hang multiple feeders, so you can reduce the chances of hungry hummingbirds fighting over their dinner.

Other Feeding Tips

Cute Anna's

As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to clean these feeders often, especially during the summer months when the nectar is most likely to spoil in high temperatures. Make sure you purchase a feeder with a simple design and one that’s very easy to clean. Cleaning out this type of feeder is pretty simple. You’ll use a mild cleanser and wash the feeder by hand. If the nectar in the feeder is spoiled, then I recommend soaking the feeder in nine parts water and one part bleach, for five minutes. Then, rinse the feeder out and dry thoroughly before use.

Never add dye to the sugar water. Some recipes online that you’ll come across recommend mixing some food dye in the solution to attract birds since these birds are drawn to bright colors because it reminds them of the sweetest flowers. However, the dye can be very harmful to the bird’s health.

A hummingbird will feed excessively right before migration. This is done to build up their energy reserves for a long flight. Make sure you keep the feeders full and clean all the way to the start of winter so that all of the migrating birds in your neck of the woods will be fed. You can place the feeders back outside again during the early spring in order to attract the newly arrived hummingbird population. If you have a hummingbird garden, then opt for long-lasting flowers that are late and early blooming.

Final Thoughts

By learning how to make sugar water for hummingbirds you’ll have total control over the purity and ingredients in the nectar. Homemade nectar is often a healthier option compared to commercial nectar since most commercial nectar contains harmful preservatives, additives, and dyes. Make sure you replace the nectar often, in order to prevent the birds from feeding on spoiled nectar, which can lead to health issues. Now that you know how to hang a bird feeder, how to make the best nectar, and what type of bird feeders to use, you’ll be surprised by how quickly word will catch on that your yard is the place to go for the freshest nectar.