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Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

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Attract lovely hummingbirds and Orioles into your garden and around your home with this super easy homemade hummingbird nectar recipe.

Homemade hummingbird food is such a simple recipe that can be made in less than 10 minutes, start to finish. As you can see from the photos, hummingbirds of all ages LOVE this homemade nectar recipe.


To Boil or Not to Boil?

You’ll note in the directions below that we boil the water first when making this hummingbird food recipe. From a health standpoint, this is not necessary as the microorganisms that cause fermentation are transported to feeders by the birds themselves, rather than in the water as is commonly believed.

The reason for boiling the water first is simply for the ease of dissolving the sugar.

Sometimes, if we’re in a hurry, we simply run a pot of plain water through the coffee pot and use the hot water to dissolve the sugar. This is known as the No-Boil method, directions for this method are further down.

hummingbird food recipe

Traditional Hummingbird Food

You’ll Need:
2 cups water, boiling
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
Hummingbird Feeders

Add sugar to boiling water, bring back up to a boil (for just under 2 minutes) Remove from heat, cool. Store in the refrigerator.

To Make 1 Gallon of Hummingbird Nectar

4 Cups of Granulated Cane Sugar
16 Cups of Water (1 gallon)

Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar, stirring occasionally. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cool completely before filling feeders.


Do Not boil longer than 2 minutes as you will create a thickened syrup that will attract bees/wasps/yellowjackets – making it more difficult for the hummingbirds to be able to eat in peace without having to fight for their food.


No Boil Method

You’ll Need:
2 cups very hot water
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
Hummingbird Feeders

Ensure your coffee pot is thoroughly clean, then run a pot of water through it. Add sugar to the hot water, stirring constantly to completely dissolve. Cool. Store in the refrigerator.

To Make 1 Gallon of Hummingbird Nectar
4 Cups of Granulated Cane Sugar
16 Cups of Water (1 gallon)

Ensure your coffee pot is thoroughly clean, then run a pot of water through it. Add sugar to 5 cups of hot water, stirring constantly to completely dissolve, add remaining 11 cups of water, stir to ensure it’s evenly mixed. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.

How long does Homemade Hummingbird Nectar last?

Homemade Hummingbird nectar should be changed every 3 days, depending on the temperature. If it becomes “cloudy” or stringy, remove it immediately and wash the feeder in hot soapy water (using dish detergent).

High temperatures
Change nectar after:
6 Days
5 Days
4 Days
3 Days
2 Days
Change Daily

WARNING: Do not vary the ingredient amounts, it can be deadly to birds. Do not substitute artificial sweeteners or honey as both are lethal to birds. Also, do not add food coloring to the water, it is unnecessary and unhealthy.

Other Interesting Facts you might enjoy about these sweet little birds:

  • Hummingbirds collect lichens & spider web fibers to build their nests; They will not use string, yarn or other nesting materials if you put them out, so save those items for the songbirds
  • Hummingbirds have little to no sense of smell and are drawn by bright colors rather than fragrances.
  • Be sure to put feeders up in early spring and leave them well into late fall. It is a MYTH that hummingbirds will not migrate if the food is still available. Check out our State by State guide to welcoming hummingbirds.

    Migration takes place due to their own internal clock and by leaving the feeders up in place, you will be helping any stragglers and ensuring their successful migration.
  • Male Hummingbirds will often fly in a U-Shaped Pattern, this display is called the Pendulum Display. It is done to attract the ladies and to impress them enough to get them to mate. You’ll frequently see this behavior in Late Spring/Early summer while the females are on the feeders.
  • “Bully” hummers on your feeder? Hummingbirds are territorial. If you’re seeing a number of so-called “bullies” chasing off other hummers, simply put up more feeders. This “bullying” is natural selection hard at work and you shouldn’t interfere with it.
  • Perhaps you’re wondering why you should boil the water at all when making homemade hummer food.. well, boiling the water removes any impurities, over chlorination (or other chemicals) and naturally occurring bacteria that may be unhealthy for the hummingbird.

    Again, as a reminder, do not boil the hummingbird food solution longer than 2 minutes as this creates a syrup that will only attract bees/wasps/yellow-jackets and other undesirables.

Did you know? Bats also love hummingbird feeders!

Discover the unexpected visitors to your hummingbird feeders at night—bats! These fascinating nocturnal creatures are also fond of the sweet nectar that hummingbirds adore. Learn how to safely share your garden with both hummingbirds and their nighttime friends. Pin this guide for tips on how to attract and enjoy the presence of these amazing animals right in your backyard, while ensuring a harmonious space for all your winged guests. 🦇🌸 #GardenWildlife #BatFriendly #HummingbirdFeeders
Photo Credit to Joe Reese

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