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Homemade hummingbird food – sugar and water recipe

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How to Make Hummingbird Food from Sugar and Water

  • by Jane Lake
  • Bee balm, hollyhock, hibiscus, trumpet honeysuckle, clematis, impatiens, phlox, purple coneflower, roses and fuchsias are some of the common flowers that will attract hummingbirds to your garden. But hanging a hummingbird feeder where you can easily see it is probably the best way to observe the hummingbirds in action.

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    There’s no need to buy expensive nectar – make your own syrup from the recipe shown here.

  • Homemade Hummingbird Food
  • 1 part sugar/4 parts water
  • Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.

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    Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use.

    Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.

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    You will need to clean your feeder at least once a week, and more often than that if the water gets cloudy. According to the National Audubon Society, cleaning should be done by rinsing with one part white vinegar to four parts water. If the feeder is dirty, try adding a few grains of dry rice to the vinegar solution to help scrub it clean. Follow the vinegar wash by rinsing three times with clear, warm water before refilling with sugar solution.

    hummingbird feeder


    If mold develops, you will need to soak the feeder in a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) until the mold is gone. A small bottle brush can be handy to scrub crevices. Once the feeder is clean again, rinse it thoroughly, multiple times, to remove all traces of bleach.

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    How to Make Hummingbird Food – Video

    For visual instructions, watch a one-minute video on making homemade nectar.

    One interesting tip: freeze leftover nectar in ice cube trays; just melt the cubes then bring the nectar up to room temperature to use.

    Make an Ant Moat:

    If ants are a problem at your feeder, make a homemade ant moat to keep them away. You’ll need a spray can cap, wire, and silicone caulking or hot glue. Simply drill or pierce a tiny hole in the middle of the cap, just large enough for the wire. Bend a hook on both ends of the wire and caulk around the hole to seal. Fill the cap with water. This moat should prevent ants from getting into your hummingbird food. Top up the water as needed to keep the ants away.

    Placement of Feeders

    Since hummingbirds are territorial, you may want to hang at least two feeders – one in the back yard and one in the front, to accomodate as many hummingbirds as you can. Hanging the feeders in a shady spot will discourage fermentation and spoilage of the nectar.

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