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Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

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It is easier than you think to make your own hummingbird food at home. If you need hummingbird nectar for your feeder, look no further than this super easy hummingbird food recipe!

Just in the past week, I’ve started to even see butterflies around my yard which made me realize that the hummingbirds aren’t going to be far behind migrating back this way so of course, I had to clean my hummingbird feeder and get it out and ready for them.

As I was doing so I thought I would share with you all my homemade hummingbird nectar recipe. If you’re ready to for an easy hummingbird food recipe, read on…

hummingbird approaching feeder

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Why make your own?

I used to buy store bought hummingbird nectar but I read that the red dye is not only unnecessary but possibly harmful so I switched to making my own hummingbird food at home.

As long as your feeder had the bright red color on it they should still be attracted to the nectar. This hummingbird food recipe is incredibly easy to make and of course less expensive to boot! (I use this hummingbird feeder.)

What you’ll need

  • granulated sugar
  • water

That’s it!

Step by step

  1. Bring the water to a boil on the stove.
  2. Stir in sugar and continue to stir until totally dissolved.
  3. Allow to cool completely before placing in the feeder. Store extra hummingbird nectar in a sealed container in the refrigerator.


Can I use tap water?

Yes, tap water is fine to use!

What kind of sugar can I use to make hummingbird food?

Refined table sugar, do not use unprocessed sugars, corn syrup, or honey.

How long can I store hummingbird food in the fridge?

Up to two weeks in a sealed container.

How often should I change the water in my hummingbird feeder?

The Audubon Society recommends cleaning the feeder every 3 days when temperatures are below 60 degrees and up to daily when temperatures rise above 80. It’s vital to keep the feeder clean so it doesn’t develop mold or fungus which will kill your hummingbirds.
Clean in very warm water with a bottle brush to ensure all surfaces are clean and mold-free.

Does hummingbird food need to be dyed red?

No, hummingbird food does not need to be red to attract the bird and the dye could in fact be harmful to them.

Where should I place my feeder?

It’s best to put your feeder in shade or dappled sunlight. You don’t want it to get too warm which may cause the nectar to ferment.

Do I really have to boil the water?

I have seen reputable sources say both not to boil and to boil the water to remove bacteria or harmful organisms. I err on the side of caution and boil it just to be on the safe side.

A hummingbird is sitting on a feeder

Do you make your own hummingbird nectar? Do you have another hummingbird food recipe you’ve tried? When do they usually return to your area?

Yield: 2 cups

How to Make Homemade Hummingbird Food

A hummingbird is sitting on a feeder

Make your own hummingbird food at home for a fraction of the price of store-bought in just 15 minutes!

Prep Time 2 minutes
Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Difficulty Easy


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  • saucepan


  1. Bring the water to a boil on the stove.
  2. Stir in sugar and continue to stir until totally dissolved. Remove from heat.
  3. Allow to cool completely before placing in the feeder. Store extra hummingbird nectar in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

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    1. I use Mineral Oil. Just put some on the ‘stem’ area that the feeder hangs from. It doesn’t take much and when the ants crawl into the oil they simply get stuck. Vegetable oil works too but it gets gunky. The Mineral Oil wipes clean. My feeder hangs from a pole, so I spread the oil about half way up the pole in about a 4 inch area.

  1. I have a momma hummingbird on my porch. She made her nest on my windchime and laid two eggs. She is sitting there now. I think her eggs hatched. She flies away everytime I go out the front door.

    1. I have a lot of hummingbirds so I usually have to refill once a week. If there are less I would clean and refill when it looks dirty, you never want the black mold to grow on the feeder.

  2. We live in Southern California in the Valley area. We hang two or three big feeders outside our bay window. For some reason, we get all the adolescent birds that are very, very hungry. We currently have 20 birds at dusk using the feeders. We have had as many as 50 by the early fall. Then all the larger birds migrate somewhere and don’t come back! The tiny ones stay for the winter. Then you gradually more and more adolescence Kohn and we have this great circus outside our window as they learn to chase each other off. Some of the birds are so small they can barely get their beaks into the feeder! Each year the colors of the birds change with the dominant males in the area. It is fun watching the little redheaded meals grew up.

    1. I’m jealous, I’m hoping ours come back to south Georgia last month, the weather has been pretty nice and they started early March last year. Thanks for taking the time to comment! ~Melissa

      1. I am in south carolina, im not seeing a lot of hummingbirds this year.
        We are 45 minutes away for Columbia , sc 29150

  3. Great information. I live in Salem,Oregon and my hummers stay all year. When the temp drops to freezing i put a hole in the toe of a sock to keep it from freezing.

  4. This is great, it’s November and the humming birds are still coming back all day, had 5 hanging out this morning well I had coffee. Just making some more now thank you

  5. Love this recipe and I am in South California so I only put out a little at a time due to the heat.
    These beautiful birds are just one reminder of how incredible our God truly is!

  6. We do make our own Hummer water. They love it! These are fiesty, territorial birds. The chirping is to ward off other Hummers that’s this feeder is spoken for!

  7. To Melissa I was using the store bought nectar for the first part of the summer I’m in Kentucky Louisville Kentucky and wasn’t saying many birds and once I started using your homemade recipe I pretty much seabirds everyday all day now I have a few bullies that are running the smaller birds away so I think I’m going to put a few more feeders out that’s what it recommends thank you for the info Theresa

    1. You made my day Theresa, thanks for letting me know. I love watching my hun=mmingbirds so much and glad to know the recipe helped you get more to your feeder. I just added a second feeder myself, and will probably add a third next year! Take care, ~Melissa

  8. Thank you for giving exact measurements! My hummingbirds love this nectar. Loved your video. They are something else to watch for sure.

    1. I’m so glad it was helpful to you! I’m already dreading the cooler weather when they leave for the winter! ~Melissa

  9. In the spring and summer as the temperatures rise, lower the sugar. Hummers need a sweeter nectar in the cooler months due to inclimate harsh conditions and the amount of energy required to keep that tiny busy baby warm and that requires alot more calories. So rule of thumb, cool or nippy one to three(1:3=1C sugar to 3C water) when its hotter outside thin it one to five(1:5=1C sugar to 5C water). This is enough nectar sweetness to give them calories but also to spare the little wonders from doing dip and sips in neighbors chlorinated pools or kiddie pools well within any predators grasp both two and four legged type. They will be refreshed and rehydrated no food dye. I usually tie a red grograin ribbon just above the sipping tip. Oh btw WASH AND SCRUB AWAY YOUR FEEDER EVERY TIME YOU REFILL ESP DURING SUMMER MONTHS it sure doesnt take much even the tiniest spot of black mold could kill a hummer. They are worth the effort matter of fact anyone reading these recipes already scrub their feeders and have better info than i do, but for sure the summer recipe is gone wiithin 3 days here. Have a wonderful summer and wishing you so much fun and laughter your tummy muscles ache and your face hurts from smiling a heart so full of love your cup runneth over to everyone you meet and may your cupboards be filled with jam at the end of summer .make memories not chore lists.

    1. Hi-we are new to the hummingbird feeder, used the store bought red stuff but the hummingbirds didn’t come around. We are going to try the homemade nectar, but I gave a question-where do you hang you feeders, we out ours in a tree, but no birds came, then we tried another tree, still no birds!! We are in California so still warm here in the 70’s, so maybe hummingbirds will come around if we have it in the special place, not sure where though

      1. I hang mine on little shepherds hook I have in large planters on my porch. I’ve always put them on a patio or porch and once they discover them I haven’t had a problem seeing them at the feeders. I actually just put up a third on my back patio because we’ve had a lot of them this year and our get aggressive with one another. We’re still in the 80s here in Georgia too so I’m hoping they stay around for a while! Hope that helps, ~Melissa

      2. Anywhere where cats/predators can’t get to and put some potted plants in the area with flowers to attract them. It took me a few weeks to attract some. And watch out for praying mantises. They kill humming birds. I hang mine on my front por in between beams so the cats can’t get to them. I’m from Northern California in the sierras.

        1. Great advice, I had thought about getting praying mantises for the yard until I heard about them killing hummingbird, no way now! ~Melissa

    2. I’m curious where you got the information regarding the amount of sugar to water to use depending on the weather/Heat..? Are you a Avian Veterinarian ?? Seriously though, I am curious about the source of the recipe. thanks !

      1. I got mine on line under the Audubon Society site. I part sugar in 4 parts water:
        1/2 sugar in 2 cups boiling water

  10. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I was guilty of buying the premixed store bought nectar. ????

  11. Hi, going to be a beautiful day in Georgia. I make my on nectar as well. I make a huge amount and keep it in the refrigerator so I can change the nectar often because of the high temperatures here. Have a wonderful day

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