How to Make Hummingbird Food

This super-simple cost-effective recipe will keep your backyard friends happily humming.
Ruby Throated Hummingbird Hovers Over Red Petunia

Ruby Throated Hummingbird Hovers Over Red Petunia

Hummingbird lovers are undoubtedly familiar with the bright-red liquid food that typically fills the small birds’ feeders. But did you know you can make hummingbird food yourself? This super-simple cost-effective recipe will keep your backyard friends happily humming, and you can skip the trip to the store:

You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup regular white cane sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • Food coloring (optional)

Instructions:

  • Heat water to a boil
  • Turn off heat, add sugar
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved completely (liquid should be clear)

At this point, you have the option to add a few drops of red food coloring for a traditional-looking hummingbird cocktail. The jury is out on whether this is a good idea: some sources say that the food coloring is bad for birds, while other hummingbird enthusiasts have noted that birds will not approach their feeder unless the liquid is red. I would suggest trying the clear solution first to see how the birds like it.

When the solution is done, let it cool, then fill your clean bird feeder! Store leftover solution in the refrigerator until it’s ready to use. The nectar will go bad fairly quickly, and be sure to clean out and refill your feeder every 3-5 days (possibly more often in very hot weather) so that bacteria doesn’t build up in the sugary solution.

It’s really as easy as that! Now get out there and enjoy watching your winged friends eat.

Next Up

For the Birds: How to Attract Wildlife in Winter

With the right mix of trees and shrubs, your backyard can become a winter haven for birds.

Hummingbird 101

Entice these enchanting birds to make a stop in your garden.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

These little powerhouses of flight need energy. Why not help them stock up in your yard?

How to Make a Colorful Birdbath

Even when the birds aren't dipping, sipping and sunning, this easy-to-make, easy-to-clean birdbath is plenty festive in the garden.

Feeding Birds in Winter: To Stop or Not to Stop?

Do birds suffer when the feeders stay empty?

How to Make a Holiday Folk Art Birdhouse

Kriste Hennick decorates her folk art birdhouses to reflect the holidays.

The Winter Benefits of Enriched Bird Food

Master gardener Maureen Gilmer gives tips on feeding birds in the winter.

Caring for Your Wild Birds

Paul James offers some creative ways to attract and maintain birds in your garden.

Bird-Watching Is for the Dads

Give dad the gift of a bird-watching accessory and you may create a hobby for life.

Birdwatching 101

Learn more about the feathered friends in your backyard.