As the days grow longer and the temperatures start to rise, you should begin seeing more and more signs that spring has arrived - and with it, the hummingbirds! You may live in an area where you find yourself lucky enough to host hummingbirds year-round, but for the rest of us, we reluctantly say goodbye to these little beauties each fall and impatiently await their return in the spring. If you're like us, you find yourself checking the hummingbird migration map daily for sightings in your area. As we watch those little hummingbird icons inch ever closer, below are some quick hummingbird feeder tips to make sure you're ready.

Hummingbird Nectar

The tried and true formula for hummingbird food is simple: about one part white granulated sugar to four parts water. This 20% sugar concentration best mirrors the sugar concentration naturally found in flowers preferred by hummingbirds. Also, the natural sugars found in flower nectar are primarily sucrose, like that of white granulated sugar.

Boil the water for approximately 2 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve thoroughly. Cover and allow to cool before using or pouring into a clean storage bottle. A large batch of nectar can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This makes refilling the feeder easy so you won't mind doing it every few days.

Additional suggestions:

  • We do NOT recommend adding red food dye or any coloring, whether natural or artificial, to the nectar.
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean your feeders before the first use of the season and before each subsequent refill (see below for more on cleaning).
  • We only recommend using regular white granulated sugar in nectar preparation.
    • Do NOT use honey. Honey is comprised primarily of fructose and glucose and therefore hummingbirds digest this much less efficiently. Also, fermentation and mold growth occurs much more rapidly in nectar solutions using honey than those from granulated sugar.
    • Do NOT use artificial sweeteners! Remember, these sweeteners contain no calories, which means they provide no energy to the hummingbirds.
  • Higher concentrations of nectar can be used. In fact, offering nectar with higher sugar concentrations early in the season and again in the late summer can help hummingbirds recover from and prepare for migration. (Don't go too overboard though! Studies show that hummingbird nectar concentration preference caps off at about 50% or 2 parts water to 1 part sugar.)
2-in-1 Plastic Dish Hummingbird Feeder

Cleaning Your Hummingbird Feeder

In order to be a responsible host, you must keep your feeder clean and full of fresh nectar. Every four or five days take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Be aware, in periods of extreme heat (or if you hang your feeder in direct sunlight) the nectar may need to be changed more frequently as the fermentation process can happen quicker. If you notice that the nectar is turning milky, or that white strings or black spots are growing in it, pour the nectar out and clean your feeder immediately.

Take apart your feeder and flush with hot tap water – a little vinegar can be added to the water to help prevent mold from becoming established. Visually inspect the feeder for black mold. If mold is present, place all parts in dishwasher for a thorough cleaning for a glass feeder. For a thorough cleaning on plastic feeders, use a pipe cleaner or small brush when washing the feeder parts by hand with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water, or with a mild solution of unscented dish detergent and warm water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with water and let dry completely before refilling. 

This is where selecting your hummingbird feeders carefully becomes important! Always look for a hummingbird feeder with removable parts to make a thorough cleaning more feasible.

Keeping Your Hummingbird Feeder Full

The need to change the nectar depends on the temperatures, where the feeder is hung, and number and frequency of hummingbirds feeding at your feeder. If the birds are not emptying your feeder between cleanings, it's unnecessary and wasteful to fill it completely. Fill only with the amount of nectar they will consume in a few days. Remember, hummingbirds to not use their beaks as straws for drinking nectar. Rather, they stick their beaks into the feeding port and then extend their tongue into the nectar. A hummingbird's tongue is quite long and has a very different structure than you might think, allowing them to reach rather deep for a drink. Depending on the species of hummingbird (and the individual bird) they will be able to reach pretty far down in a feeder to drink the nectar.  

Over time you will get a feel for how much nectar to put in the feeder. 

Pictured: Vintage Blossom Decorative Glass Hummingbird Feeder

RELATED ARTICLES

Hummingbird feeder challenges and solutions

10 interesting facts about hummingbird behavior

5 most common hummingbirds of the US & Canada

What colors are hummingbirds attracted to?

 

11 comments

  • Hi Brenda. The recipe is one part white granulated sugar to four parts water. All the best.

    - Nature's Way Bird Products
  • What is the recipe for the nectar how much water how much sugar it says to boil for 2 minutes but it doesn’t say how much of each ingredient

    - BRENDA
  • Hi Robert, Thanks for reaching out to Nature’s Way Bird Products! You can check out the migration map on any of our hummingbird feeder product pages to see the status of the hummer migration in your area. Louisiana is in a prime position to see hummers as they return from Mexico and Central America. If you aren’t seeing them as much as you like in your yard, visit the Hummingbird blog entry for suggested tips. Happy birding!

    - Nature's Way Bird Products
  • I live in northwest louisiana we dont seem to get an abundance of humming birds why/

    - robert
  • The hummingbirds where I live (northern NJ) start appearing about the time the bleeding heart plants are about 3" high. I use that to mark the time to put out feeders.

    - Kathy G

Post a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

New items

See what's new

New Arrival
Regular price $29.99
Sale price $29.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Attract more hummingbirds to your yard with this antique textured glass hummingbird feeder! Decorative dual-use feeder basket can be hung using included chains or set directly on a flat surface ...
New Arrival
Regular price $28.99
Sale price $28.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Bring more blooms to your yard with this decorative floral glass hummingbird feeder! Easy Connect – Hanging ring designed with additional loop at the bottom to allow for multiple feeders to be co...
New Arrival
Regular price $28.99
Sale price $28.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Bring more blooms to your yard with this decorative floral glass hummingbird feeder! Easy Connect – Hanging ring designed with additional loop at the bottom to allow for multiple feeders to be co...
Best Seller New Arrival Sold Out
Regular price $2.99
Sale price $2.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from most locations Securely add length to any hook or hanger, outdoors or indoors Dur...
New Arrival
Regular price $4.99
Sale price $4.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from most locations Customize length to fit your needs with secure locking clip Secure...
Best Seller New Arrival
Regular price $2.99
Sale price $2.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from most small branches Securely add length to any hook or hanger, outdoors or indoor...
Best Seller New Arrival
Regular price $23.99
Sale price $23.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Defend your bird seed from undesirable critters with this dual-mount squirrel baffle! 16-inch diameter baffle can be suspended above feeder as a squirrel defender and weather guard or attached to ...
New Arrival Sold Out
Regular price $27.99
Sale price $27.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Defend your bird seed from undesirable critters with this pole mounted squirrel baffle! Baffle easily installs to bird feeder poles and shepherd hooks; includes a metal coupler for secure position...
New Arrival
Regular price $17.99
Sale price $17.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from your deck Durable weather-resistant powder-coated metal for a hanger that can wit...
New Arrival
Regular price $49.99
Sale price $49.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Add a touch of classic architecture and design to your yard with this gazebo bird feeder! Large and small bird spacing for attracting a wide variety of birds Channeled base with drainage holes dir...