Hummingbird nectar is definitely one of those “why buy when you can DIY” things. A lot of DIY stuff I don’t care for because they’re either too much work or cost just as much (or more!) than just buying it (like the kids’ sandbox) or a combination of both. But hummingbird nectar–which costs as much as $7 for 32 ounces (and that was about the cheapest I could find)–now that’s just a bit too pricey. Homemade nectar, on the other hand, costs me about 5¢ (CENTS!) per 32 ounces. Now that’s significant savings! And it’s so easy to make it’s a real no-brainer.
For this recipe, ALL you need are two ingredients: water and white sugar. I highly recommend you leave out any food coloring. Most food dyes (including some natural food-derived ones) are toxic to hummingbirds. And you don’t want to kill off your cute little humming friends.
To make the syrup (er hummingbird nectar), you need 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. That’s 1/4 cup sugar per 1 cup water. I have these adorable mason jar hummingbird feeders which each hold about 3 cups of nectar, so I use 3/4 cup sugar and 3 cups water.
To make the nectar, bring the water to a boil and stir in the sugar until completely dissolved. I still have a microwave (getting rid of the microwave is one crunchy step I haven’t quite leapt for yet), so I use it to make the nectar. I put the water in a 4-cup glass measuring cup, add the sugar, give it a quick stir, then pop it in the microwave for about 7 minutes. Once it’s done, I remove it with a hot pad (’cause it’s very HOT) and stir it until any remaining sugar on the bottom has completely dissolved. Whether you’re making the syrup on the stove top or in the microwave, you know the sugar has dissolved completely when the liquid turns clear and there is no more sugar settled on the bottom.
Once the nectar has been made, let it cool completely before filling your hummingbird feeders (you don’t want to burn the little guys). If you have any leftover nectar, put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge.
Some Parting Tips
- Since hummingbirds are territorial critters, you’ll want at least two hummingbird feeders–one for the front yard and one for the backyard–or at least at locations where a hummingbird at one feeder won’t be able to see any at another feeder. We have one little guy that perches in the tree in our front yard and dive bombs any other hummingbirds that dare drink from his feeder. It’s quite humorous.
- Clean your feeder once a week or when the nectar looks cloudy or otherwise dirty (like when there’s an ant or a few dozen floating around in it). To clean, hand wash it with warm water and about a tablespoon of vinegar to kill any bacteria.
- In the spring, you only need to fill your feeders about halfway to prevent waste. Once the hummingbirds are draining that amount in a week or less, add more.
- Keep the feeders in the shade if possible during hot weather to reduce the risk of the water going sour too fast.
And in case you want to print this super complicated recipe…
- 4 parts water
- 1 part sugar
- Bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. You know the sugar has dissolved completely when the syrup appears clear and there is no more sugar settled on the bottom of the container.