Love hummingbirds? This sugar water recipe has the right proportions to match the nectar hummingbirds find in the wild.
Waiting for the annual migration? We have a live hummingbird migration map here tracking their journey through the United States and Canada.
Hummingbird Sugar Water
The hummingbird food suitable for our feeders is simply white granulated sugar dissolved in boiling water (and cooled).
It is very important to get the ratio right (listed below) so it mimics the amount of sugar found in the flower nectar hummingbirds have co-evolved with.
Hummingbird Sugar Water Recipe
1-part white granulated sugar | 4 parts clean, boiled water
Tiny Batch: 1/8 cup sugar: 1/2 cup waterSmall Batch: 1/4 cup sugar: 1 cup waterMedium Batch: 1/2 cup sugar: 2 cups waterLarge Batch: 1 cup sugar: 4 cups water
White granulated sugar (the same kind you use for baking)Do NOT Use:
Brown sugarHoneySugar powdersRed dye or red food coloringOrganic, natural, and raw sugars (can be too high in iron)Artificial sweetenerThese items can cause a range of problems including bird illness, rapid bacteria and fungi growth, and the potential spread of disease.
1Clean Your Feeder
Have hummingbird feeders clean and ready. There is more info on this below.
2Boil Sugar and Water
Add 1-part sugar and 4-parts water to saucepan and bring to a boil.
Tiny Batch: 1/8 cup sugar: 1/2 cup waterSmall Batch: 1/4 cup sugar: 1 cup waterMedium Batch: 1/2 cup sugar: 2 cups waterLarge Batch: 1 cup sugar: 4 cups water3Dissolve Sugar
Allow mixture to gently boil for at least 5 minutes to completely dissolve sugar.
4Cool and Fill Feeder
Leave mixture to cool to room temperature before adding to feeder.
5Store Leftovers in Fridge
Place any leftover mixture in jar with tight lid and store in fridge up to 5 days. Mark expiry date on jar.
Related: How to Make a Hummingbird Feeder from Mason Jars
Helpful Hummingbird Info
1What do hummingbirds eat?
Hummingbirds eat insects and consume natural nectar from flowering plants.
They do not require the sugar water we provide to survive but it can help to supplement their diets.
2Any tips for choosing a hummingbird feeder?
Hummingbird Feeder | Amazon
When choosing a feeder, I look for:
Small sugar water bottle or tank area.
Sugar water spoils quickly—the hotter the weather, the faster it spoils—so I like to use small feeders and change them frequently rather than feeders with large bottles that will not get used up.Easy to clean: can everything come apart and be scrubbed clean?Perch for hummingbirds to rest while dining (to conserve energy).Durability: if the feeder has a dispenser bottle, I prefer glass to plastic which tends to be short-lived and gets old-looking.Hook for hangingAlso, if you find a feeder you really like, buy a few! I rarely see my favorites year after year so I stock up when I can.
3How do hummingbirds find feeders?
Hummingbirds find feeders by sight and that is why red feeders—the same color as some of their favorite nectar flowers— are a helpful signal to them that nectar may be available.Hummingbirds have minimal or no sense of smell so it’s a myth that they smell the sugar.
4How can I attract hummingbirds?
First, be sure they do live in your area. There are parts of Canada and the United States where they do not visit.Create a hummingbird-friendly garden.
This includes:Garden organically without pesticides, herbicides, and any other harmful chemicals.Grow plants hummingbirds like.Provide nesting and resting habitat with trees and shrubs.Make your hummingbird feeders visible from above: don’t place them on a covered patio where the birds might never discover them.Keep cats and dogs out of garden (if you can).5How often should I change the sugar water?
Sugar water does not stay fresh very long.
It lasts just 4-5 days in the refrigerator and can spoil quickly outside depending on how hot it is.I find it needs changing every second day in moderate weather (70°F | 21°C) and twice daily on hot days (90°F | 32°C).
If we have a heat wave, I take the feeders down because they will go moldy.6How can I keep ants off my hummingbird feeder?
Suspend your hummingbird feeder from a hook so the only physical way to for ant to reach it is via the hook.And, use an ant moat. These are little cups of water that suspend a hook, with a hanger on the underside to suspend the feeder.The ants will stop at the hook because they cannot swim across the cup of water to continue their journey.
Related: How to Make a Moat for a Hummingbird Feeder
7How do you clean a hummingbird feeder?
Start with feeders that are easy to clean. Some of them are terrible!
There are two steps to cleaning a feeder after emptying it:
1. Wash in mild soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
2. Soak in a solution of 1-part household bleach and 9-parts water for at least two minutes.
3. Rinse and dry thoroughly before reuse.
Related: How to Clean and Disinfect Bird Feeders
Enjoy those dear little birds and be sure to clean your feeders regularly to keep it safe and healthy for them.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Hummingbird Sugar Water
This recipe mimics the nectar in flowers so hummingbirds get the right sugar ratio.
Prep Time5 minsSteps15 minsTotal Time20 mins
Servings: 1 cup
Author: Melissa J. Will
NotesSugar: do NOT use brown sugar, honey, sugar powders, artificial sweeteners.
These items can cause a range of problems including bird illness, rapid bacteria and fungi growth, and the potential spread of disease.
Do not use red food coloring or red dye.
Make small batches as needed: clean and refill feeder frequently on warm days. You may need to remove feeder on hot days to avoid mold.