Activities

How to Make Hummingbird Nectar

In a few easy steps, you can bring these nectar-loving birds to your feeder.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Video: Mike Fernández/Audubon. Photo: Camilla Cerea/Audubon

Hummingbirds may be some of the smallest birds in the world, but fluttering those tiny wings can be quite a workout. Flapping away at up to 90 beats per second burns up calories fast; to maintain their momentum, hummingbirds need to eat—a lot! To satisfy their speedy metabolisms, these busy birds consume half their body weight in bugs and nectar, feeding every 10-15 minutes and visiting 1,000-2,000 flowers per day.

You can help these hardworking foragers get the nutrients they need by providing them with their favorite post-workout meal—nectar. This hummingbird sweet treat can be made right at home with a few simple ingredients. By filling your feeder with this DIY delight, you can complement nectar-rich plants and watch these beautiful little birds feed and flitter all day.

Materials:

• 1/4 cup refined white sugar

[Ed. note: Please do use refined white sugar. Honey can promote dangerous fungal growth. Organic, natural, and raw sugars contain levels of iron that could be harmful. Plain white table sugar is sucrose, which, when mixed with water, very closely mimics the chemical composition of natural nectar.]

• 1 cup boiling water

• Bowl

• Spoon

Note: There's no need for red dye here. Red coloring is not necessary and the chemicals could prove to be harmful to the birds. 

Steps:

1. Mix sugar and boiling water until sugar is dissolved. 

2. Cool and fill feeder.

3. Hang up your feeder outside and wait for the hummingbirds to come.

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You Can Help Hummingbirds! Use Audubon’s free Hummingbirds at Home app or website to submit your observations on when hummingbirds feed on your DIY nectar or the nectar-bearing native plants in your yard or community. By doing so, you'll be helping us protect these flying gems.