How to Make Hummingbird Feed

lisa cockrellOne of my most frequently asked questions is what do I feed my Hummingbirds. There is only one recipe and its simple. Sugar and water, at a ratio of 1:4. 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water. Here are some more thoughts and details about feeding hummers.

Nectar in flowers is clear, and red food coloring may be harmful for hummingbirds. Never use honey to make  your hummingbird food – when honey is diluted with water, bacteria and fungus thrive in it. Table sugar is perfect.

I only use the ration of 1:4 for all times of the year. You will see some people say to decrease the sugar in the summer when there are lots of flowers, and increase the sugar in the fall for extra nutrition. I just simply use the one recipe and after many years of successfully attracting hummingbirds, I am confident that this works. If you do increase the sugar concentration, I have found that ants and bees seem to be more attracted as well.

I do not boil my water because I have well water and I make only what I use. In the fall during migration I make several gallons a day because I refill feeders several times a day. If you are storing your Hummingbird feed in the refrigerator, or if you have community water I would boil it just to prevent any contamination.

lisa cockrellMake sure you change your hummingbird feed often and clean your feeders well. Never let any black mold develop or it could be deadly for the birds. Empty and clean feeders every 3-4 days, more often when the weather gets hot. My rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t expect them to.

As for the Red Dye, I say just don’t do it. I did for many years, and when I gave it up I saw no decrease in visiting hummers to my feeders.

There is actually very little information on red dye use and harm to hummingbirds, but there are studies that it has potential harm in other animals. It is completely not needed and why even take the chance.  Commercial foods have additives and are expensive so just make your own.

Here is an article about using red dye that I have found to be useful:

“Please Don’t Use Red Dye” Article

Hummingbirds are attracted to red color so be sure to use feeders that have red on them and plant red flowers.

If you are trying to attract more hummingbirds into your garden, I have seen people put up red surveyor’s tape around their property. I think any red color will attract them so be creative.

I convinced my husband to paint both of our barns red with the thought that they would see me from a distance. I think it works!

Keep adding new ideas to your garden and get those feeders out early to attract these little jewels on their way through our backyards.

By adding a few feeders and a few plants, you may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of these little jewels and experience the joy of hummingbirds.

Happy Hummers!


P.S. Please join me on Facebook and enjoy photos of my garden and the hummingbirds all year round.

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