Is there anything sweeter than watching an energetic little hummingbird grace your garden, with its flurry of iridescent wings and laser-focused feeding prowess? Encountering these zippy little birds seems almost magical, but it's actually quite simple to attract them with some homemade nectar. These birds have a major sweet tooth, and mixing up their cocktail of choice couldn't be easier, as it consists of just sugar and water. The key is to get the proper proportions in order to approximate the natural sucrose content of nectar-producing flowers, providing the birds with a nutritious source of calories and energy.
How to Make Simple Hummingbird Nectar:
- In a pot, combine one part refined white sugar and four parts water.
- Heat the mixture on low and stir slowly until the sugar is incorporated, approximately two minutes.
- Allow the nectar to cool completely before filling the feeders.
Tips For Making Hummingbird Nectar:
- Refrain from using brown sugar, honey, or molasses as these are too heavy for the birds to digest and can quickly ferment, causing a mold that is deadly for hummingbirds to consume.
- According to the National Audubon Society, it's important to use refined white sugar because "organic, natural, and raw sugars contain levels of iron that could be harmful. Plain white table sugar is sucrose, which, when mixed with water, very closely mimics the chemical composition of natural nectar."
- While some store-bought bird nectar will be colored red, there's no need to dye the nectar red, and in fact, some dyes can include harmful chemicals. Some say the red color attracts hummingbirds, but red is not necessary to draw birds to a feeder with homemade nectar. If you'd like, plant some red flowers near the bird feeder.
- It's key to allow the nectar to cool completely before using it, as hot nectar could warp or crack the feeder.
- Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned and refreshed with new nectar weekly, or every three to five days in warm weather.
Enjoy your new hub of hummingbird activity!
— Additional reporting by Kate Emswiler