It’s that time of the year again folks, hummingbird season! As we gear up to welcome these little beauties back into our yards and neighborhoods, it’s time to get the feeders out and filled up with the right food for our feathered friends.
I’ve been doing a little research into just what the best food is for hummingbirds, and in this article, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about hummingbird food. Read on to learn more about:
- What do hummingbirds eat?
- Hummingbird food recipe
- How to make hummingbird food
- Hummingbird feeder mix options
- Top 10 Best Hummingbird Feeders
- 7 Ways To Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders
- What do Hummingbirds Eat?
Hummingbird Food Guide For 2022
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What Do Hummingbirds Eat?
A very important food source for hummingbirds is nectar from wildflowers. These birds are perfectly adapted to feed by hovering in front of nectar-filled, tubular flowers and inserting their long, straight bills into these sugary take-outs from nature.
The amount of agility it takes to fly this way always amazes me, but the energy spent is worth the reward.
By doing this, hummingbirds do a very important job for the plants by pollinating them and making sure these plants are able to produce loads of healthy seeds to produce new plants in the future.
While nectar is an essential food for hummingbirds, insects and other invertebrates like spiders make up the bulk of their diet because nectar doesn’t contain much of the protein these energetic little birds need to grow.
Hummingbird Feeder Mix Options
Now that you know what hummingbirds eat, how do you go about feeding them? Well, you have a few options here, but the most effective, and the most enjoyable (I think) is to set out a few hummingbird feeders and fill them with sweet nectar.
If you’re as messy in the kitchen as I am, the easiest way to provide good quality food for your visitors is to get yourself some nectar made by experts. These come in three forms:
Concentrates are really easy to use. All you need to do is mix them with water and you have the perfect meal to feed your hummingbirds. One of the real benefits of nectar concentrates is that you can store them in the refrigerator, and they will last a long time without spoiling.
I prefer clear mixes like this great hummingbird nectar concentrate from Perky-pet. All you need to do is pour 1 part of concentrate into your feeder and then add another 3 parts of water.
2. Dry Mixes
Another easy way to make good quality hummingbird food at home is to use a dry hummingbird feeder mix, like this product from Hummingbird Momma. This product makes use of organic sugar and contains lower levels of iron than you get from regular refined white sugar.
3. Ready To Use Nectars
For those of us who often find ourselves being chased out of the kitchen, ready-made nectars are the easiest way to feed hummingbirds by far. Kaytee makes an especially good ready-to-use nectar that hummingbirds just love.
Maybe it’s the added electrolytes they use in the recipe that the birds enjoy so much, but this is a safe product, with no red dyes. Simply store it in the refrigerator and top up your feeders when necessary, although I must warn you, you might be filling them up regularly because the hummers love this stuff.
Hummingbird Food Recipe
If you’re more interested in mixing up your own hummingbird nectar at home from scratch, the best recipe for hummingbird food contains only two ingredients:
- Refined white sugar
Not a very long list is it? I must encourage you to NOT use any other ingredients in your DIY hummingbird nectar recipe. Rather leave the electrolytes and preservatives to the professionals and keep it simple at home.
You may have seen some ready mixes that have a red color or even been advised to use red food dyes in your sugar water but this really isn’t necessary.
In fact, from the research I’ve done, it’s pretty clear that these birds will find your hummingbird feeders just as easily if they are red or at least have red feeding ports.
Remember folks, it’s the color of the flower/feeder that attracts hummingbirds, not the color of the nectar inside them.
How To Make Hummingbird Food
Now that you know exactly what (and what not) to use in your recipe for hummingbird food, let’s take a look at how to make sugar water for hummingbirds.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
If you don’t already have some, get yourself a bag of refined white sugar. Next, boil some water. Tap water is fine for this, we’re boiling it to kill any bacteria or impurities it might contain.
Step 2: Measure Your Ingredients
The perfect ratio for your nectar will be 1 part sugar, to 4 parts water. How big is a part? Well, it depends on how much nectar you want to make. I would suggest starting with 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water to make a little over a quart of nectar.
Your homemade sugar water is preservative-free and won’t keep for all that long, even if refrigerated, so it’s better to not make more than you can use in a week or so.
Step 3: Mix Up Your Nectar
In a bowl, mix up the sugar and water with a spoon, until all the sugar has dissolved. Let this mixture cool off before filling up the bottle you’re going to store it in.
A small funnel will help you pour your sugar water out of your bowl and into a bottle without messing any of this sweet and sticky stuff. Congratulations, you now have a great batch of sugar water for hummingbirds!
Step 4: Feed Those Hummers
Before we move on to this step, an important note: DON’T put out hot nectar to the birds.
Apart from hummingbird safety, It’s also a good idea to let your nectar cool off to room temperature before filling your feeders because hot liquid may cause plastic parts of your feeders to warp or glass parts to crack.
Now that your nectar has cooled off, go ahead and fill up your feeders. Make sure your feeders are cleaned first though, it’s safer for the birds and will keep your nectar fresh for longer.
If you’re not getting as many visitors as you’d like, check out this article for more information on how to attract hummingbirds.
Now that you know all about what hummingbirds feed on and how to feed them, you should be all set to feed these little beauties. This hummingbird food formula might attract more than just hummingbirds, and if you’re having a problem with unwanted bees, check out this guide on how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders.
Remember to stick to this trusted sugar water recipe, or use only good quality products without food dye to keep your visitors healthy and coming back for more. Happy birdwatching!
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2 thoughts on “Hummingbird Food Guide For 2023”
This year I see it said that organic sugar used in the recipe is harmful because organic sugar contains higher levels of iron, which is harmful to the hummers. Is this true? I lived over 40 years in Maryland and many parts of the state have high levels of iron in the well water. So are all of those people using their tap water from wells harming the hummers?
While organic sugar may contain slightly higher levels of iron than regular sugar, the amount of iron in sugar is not significant enough to harm hummingbirds, and the iron in tap water is not harmful to hummingbirds either.