This time of year the bird food section of stores includes packets of pre-mixed bright red nectar and hummingbird nectar powder mix for hummingbirds. If you like to feed hummingbirds, save yourself some money and skip the red food dye, and mix up this easy homemade hummingbird food recipe. It couldn't be simpler. Also, I'd like to recommend what I think is the best hummingbird feeder, and some tips for keeping your hummers healthy.
Homemade Hummingbird Food Recipe – Hummingbird Nectar
Maintain a 1:4 sugar to water ratio for your homemade hummingbird food.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Use clean, unchlorinated tap water. Heat the water to boiling (to kill any bacteria). Stir in sugar until dissolved. Allow the hummingbird nectar to cool to room temp before placing in feeder. Refrigerate any unused portion of the hummingbird food for up to a week.
Hummingbird Feeder Safety Tips to Keep Your Hummingbirds Healthy
Change your hummingbird nectar at least every three days, especially in warm weather.
Watch out for mold growth or fermentation. Any off smell or off color or cloudiness is a bad sign. Clean the hummingbird feeder thoroughly and clean and refill more frequently – before the hummingbird food becomes cloudy. Contaminated food can make the hummingbirds sick. Use non-toxic dish soap or a vinegar water solution and rinse well.
Wash your feeder every time you fill it. Take special care to clean around each feeding port with a cotton swap, old toothbrush or pastry tube brush, or some combination of the three. The little nooks and crannies around the opening are the most like spots for debris buildup and mold growth. We use a pastry tube cleaning brush to clean in the holes, and clean around them with an old toothbrush.
The article “What Do Hummingbirds Eat?” by BirdWatcher's Digest also suggests that hummingbirds enjoy real maple syrup and tree sap, plus they eat many small bugs. Honey is not recommended because it may contain live bacteria.
The Best Hummingbird Feeder
One thing I've noticed about most hummingbird nectar feeders is that they are terribly hard to clean. Even a good bottle brush has a hard time getting into curves and tight corners. Many references advise using a bleach water rinse to kill any bacteria, but it's tough to guarantee the effectiveness of this and also to make sure the bleach is completely rinsed out.
After looking in vain for an easy to clean hummingbird feeder at the local hardware stores, I finally came across the Hummzinger Mini at a specialty wild bird shop.
This feeder is composed of a hanger and two pieces shaped roughly like hollow doughnut halves. The two halves clamp and unclamp like a plastic Easter egg, leaving the center of each wide open for easy cleaning. In the center of the reservoir, there's a separate reservoir that can be filled with water to deter ants.
You can see the Hummzinger hummingbird feeder in action in the awesome hummingbird video below.
While marketed as a hummingbird feeder, I have had orioles come and perch and use the feeder as well. They also have a Hummzinger Ultra, which holds 12 ounces, for those who have a larger hummingbird population. Their Humblossom holds only 4 ounces, which means less dumping old nectar if you only have a couple of hummingbirds to feed.
Enjoy these little beauties while you can. For those of us in the north, winter will be here again all too soon.
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- 15 Home Remedies for Seasonal Allergies and Hay Fever Symptoms
Originally posted in 2013, updated in 2017.