Make Your Own Hummingbird Food

by Tammy Taylor

We enjoy the hummingbirds and although at first we didn’t see them when we moved here, putting out a feeder apparently brought them out of the corners of our ranch!  Back in “the day” I just bought the dry powdered stuff.  But I hated that it involved a plastic package to contain it.  (did I ever mention how much I’m trying to eliminate extraneous plastic from our home??)  But I do so enjoy the hummingbirds that come to this beautiful feeder first thing every morning.

It's So Easy (and CHEAP!) To Make Your Own Hummingbird Food - Only 2 Ingredients!! #TaylorMadeHomestead

The feeder is on a shepherd’s hook right outside our large windows.  We enjoy the constant acrobatics from these little guys. But they stay hungry and they eat a lot!   It doesn’t take them long at all to drain the nectar from the feeder.

It's So Easy (and CHEAP!) To Make Your Own Hummingbird Food - Only 2 Ingredients!! #TaylorMadeHomestead

What’s an enterprising country girl to do?  Well several years ago a quick search of the internet promised that you could indeed make hummingbird nectar at home for a fraction of the cost of buying the commercial stuff.  And it’s so easy with only TWO INGREDIENTS:  water and sugar!

It's So Easy (and CHEAP!) To Make Your Own Hummingbird Food - Only 2 Ingredients!! #TaylorMadeHomestead

The recipe I use has a ratio of 1 part granulated sugar to 4 parts water.  to make things easy I always use 1/4 cup sugar to a full cup of water.  I don’t heat the entire cup of water, just enough necessary to dissolve the sugar.  In a microwaveable-safe container I heat that small amount of water until it’s almost boiling, then stir in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved.  Finally I’ll add the rest of the water and stir to mix it all together.

This method accomplishes two things.  First I don’t have to heat the water as long since it’s only a fraction of the final volume.  And it also means I can cool the nectar quickly for the feeder with the other portion of water.  Um hummm… this noggin’s not just a hat rack my friend!

As a side note: I’ve always read that coloring of the nectar is not necessary.  When you think about it, it’s the small colored flower that attracts the hummingbird not the plant itself.  And most every hummingbird feeder has a brightly colored flower-shaped feeding tube.  So mission accomplished!  They love this nectar and there’s no shortage of these little guys at our feeder at all times of the day.

Give it a try.  The hummers, your wallet, and the environment will thank you and it’ll be yet another thing to cross off your shopping list!

~TMH~

C’mon by & sit a spell!  Come hang out at our ~TMH~ Facebook Page – it’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea – lots of good folks sharing!  You can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or GooglePlus. If you’d like to receive an email each time a new blog post goes live it’s EASY to Subscribe to our blog!

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61 thoughts on “Make Your Own Hummingbird Food

  1. Rosie (@greenrosielife)

    There are no hummingbirds in France but there are plenty of other bird foods that are much better and cheaper made at hoe rather than shop bought #GoingGreenLinky

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      It always amazes me how different the fauna & flora are in different regions, states and countries, Rosie. I forget having lived in Texas almost all my life that others don’t have the same where they live. But you’re so right about being able to feed the feathered friends more cheaply, no matter where you live.

      Reply
  2. Alicia Owen

    We make our own too! It’s so insanely easy and inexpensive to make. Makes me wonder why anyone would buy it from the store!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Me too Alicia, although I’m certainly not casting stones here toward those who purchase it. I bought the red powdered stuff in plastic pouches too before I got to wondering how difficult it would be to make it myself. And once I found out *how* easy… well I’ve been making it for years now. But hopefully this post creates awareness with others who (like me) just hadn’t thought about it before. ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Once I figured out how easy it was to make it, I’ve never looked back. LOL ~TMH~

      Reply
  3. Karen Grosz

    A terrific way to use sugar. We don’t get many hummingbirds here, but every once in a while they wander up this way. Love to watch them. Thanks for sharing #LetsGetRealSocial.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      We never really saw them around here either Karen, until one day we decided to throw up a feeder & see if anything found it. I was so surprised! Now we keep the feeder up all summer for them. It’s placed just outside our living room window so we can watch them with all their cute acrobatics. ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Kim~madeinaday

    What a super easy recipe! I have so many hummingbirds in my backyard. thinking I need to get a feeder now! Thank you so much for linking up to Merry Monday this week! I am sharing your post today on my We hope to see you next week for another great party! Have a great week! Best, Kim

    Reply
  5. Lisa

    I love this tip! The hummingbirds go through a lot of the food I buy them at the store. This will be so much more economical. Pinned.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Yes ma’am, it’s so quick to whip up this nectar & costs (literally) just pennies! Give it a try Lisa. ~TMR~

      Reply
  6. Patricia Krank

    Thank you so much for the recipe for hummingbird food. We have two empty feeders that need to be filled for the poor birds that keep coming looking for food on our porch. They drained the first batch! Your neighbor over at Good Morning Monday, Patti

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      So happy you stopped by Patricia. Whip up a batch of this nectar – you’ll be convinced! ~TMR~

      Reply
  7. Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

    I love hummingbirds and you can’t get much easier than this recipe! I really need to get a hummingbird feeder now 🙂 Thanks for linking up to Share The Wealth Sunday! xoxo Lisa

    Reply
  8. Brandi Clevinger

    Making my own is more cost effective. They are expensive in the stores especially when it’s so inexpensive to make it at home. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Yes ma’am Brandi – a great added PLUS in MIY. I typically strive to MIY to eliminate the packaging that’s involved too. Hey, that makes it a two-fer! 😉 ~TMR~

      Reply
  9. Marla

    Love your pictures. I think hummingbirds are the most unique and interesting creatures and love watching them. I make my recipe the same as your and I understand that you should not put in red dye because it is extremely harmful to hummingbirds. Pinned & twitted. Visiting from Homestead blog hop.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      True Marla, dyes are not needed (although I’d be surprised if they weren’t included in the commercial stuff) Back in ‘the day’ they used to say the dye was what attracted the hummers to your feeder but when you stop & think about nature, the plant’s not what’s brightly colored – it’s only the flower. So as long as your feeder has a brightly colored flower feature the hummers find it just fine. We’ve never had a problem with our colorless nectar because our feeder has a red feeding flower, as do most all hummer feeders. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  11. Terri Presser

    They sound like such beautiful birds, we don’t have them here but it would be great if we did. What a great idea you had too, who would have thought “water and sugar”. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

    Reply
  12. Margy

    We have more hummingbirds this year than I can ever remember. Even though we don’t put out feeders, they come by to check out our Christmas lights hanging from the front porch. They glint in the sunlight, attracting them. We don’t use feeders because we aren’t home all the time and don’t want them to run out in our absence. Even so, I really enjoy their visits. – Margy

    Reply
  13. Christy

    Thanks for an inexpensive and quick alternative to store bought nectar! So glad you shared with Idea Box link party! Cheers, Christy

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Our hummers really like it Christy. They’re just now starting to show up in earnest, but I love watching them. ~TMR~

      Reply
  14. Donna @ Soul Survival

    Great idea about only heating a portion of the water. I always thought the sugar/water solution needed to be boiled for a couple of minutes, but it doesn’t sound like it’s necessary. Donna

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      The water has to be hot enough to dissolve the sugar, but once the sugar is dissolved that requirement ends. So we only heat up 1/2 of the water, dissolve the sugar and use the other half of the water to cool the mixture quickly. Works well for us Donna! ~TMR~

      Reply
  15. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

    We love to watch them too Richard. I realize they can be territorial but we only have the one feeder and it’s the only one we plan to put up. I know there’s their natural food sources out there that’s been there since way before we put a feeder up so there’s plenty of food to go around, I just like to draw a few closer to the window for the enjoyment of watching them. They are very entertaining and it’s amusing to see the one dominant bird finally sit on the shepherd’s hook and pretend he doesn’t see the others feeding… for a SHORT while anyway. LOL. They’re certainly beautiful and entertaining creatures. ~TMR~

    Reply
  16. Richard M. Gaskill

    I guess you’ve seen there will usually be one dominant bird that will chase of the others. That is why we have 2 feeders pretty far apart. We also buy hanging plants that hummingbirds are attracted to. We are sure we have one bird that returned from a previous year. he will perch near the feeder and stand guard to chase others off. It’s entertaining to watch our cats on the porch watching the hummingbirds.

    Reply
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  18. Erlene

    Aaahhh…I wish I had this recipe sooner. We just bought some commercial hummingbird food with the feeder for the kids. We have it hanging right outside our window and the birds come daily to feed. Will be making this when we run out of commercial food. Thanks for sharing this on Merry Monday.

    Reply
  19. Jo May

    I saw at Eclectic Red Barn Happiness is Homemade linky, I following on g+ would love to get more hummers, seems we only get a couple every year sometimes three, I usually buy the box mix at Tractors Farm Supply, I’ve often thought I should try and make, now I think I’ll try, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  20. Kathy

    That’s exactly what I do – the Hummers love it 🙂 I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday, Kathy

    Reply
  21. Tina Ernspiker

    I love hummingbirds. We have many of them here in Mexico. I am trying to get them to eat at our homemade feeder but it’s not working very well. I may just need to buy a feeder… Thanks for the food tips!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I’m surprised they’re not coming to your homemade feeder Tina – our first feeder was homemade and they flocked to it. Maybe they just haven’t found it yet, sometimes it takes a little time… (fingers crossed) ~TMR~

      Reply
  22. Cynthia Landrie

    Hummingbirds are such beautiful animals. What a great way to be able to see them more often. Thanks for the tips about making their food. Thank you for linking at the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you again next week.

    Reply
  23. ColleenB.~Texas

    The only way to go is by mixing up your own hummer food. When I buy sugar, I buy the 25lb bag that I get @ Sam’s club so not only do I use the sugar for the hummer mixture but I also do a lot of baking. I know s sounds like a lot for most people but for me, I go through it pretty quickly. Besides having sugar water for the hummers, it’s always nice to have variety of plants that they like as well. I have a Cardinal vine growing up my arbor and they love it, along with the other plants that I have around for them to enjoy as well.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Yes ma’am Colleen I agree, and it always surprises me to see what flowers they prefer. I always thought they loved large trumpet-shaped blossoms and of course those are their favorites, but I enjoy seeing them tackle the tiny blooms on my rosemary too. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  25. Mary@Back to the Basics!

    I used to help my granny make the humming bird food. It’s so easy! Thank for sharing at the Creative HomeAcre Hop. Hope to see you back again! http://back2basichealth.blogspot.com/2013/07/welcome-to-creative-homeacre-hop.html

    Reply
  26. Jenny

    I did this once before. We really enjoy watching hummingbirds. Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop. We look forward to having you back again tomorrow: http://wp.me/p2urYY-12Y

    Reply
  27. Pogonia

    Before I got a Berkey water filter, I always boiled the water. It eliminates the chlorine. Although our bigger bodies may not react to it, it is a poison and their little bodies don’t need the added stress trying to deal with it. Or just let the water sit out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate. I came here from the Homestead Barn Hop and always look for, and read, your posts. 🙂

    Reply
  28. Kris, Neighbor Chick

    Thanks for these instructions. We have a feeder that needs to have the nectar replaced cause it’s expired. This is great timing!! I’m tweeting and pinning. Have a lovely day!! Neighbors About Town Blog

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Gotta love it when the timing is right, huh Kris?? Thanks for the tweet/pin! ~TMR~

      Reply
  29. that's the way the cornbread crumbles

    I love to watch the hummingbirds although we haven’t had any on our deck yet.

    Reply
  30. Sarah C

    What a great post, and a fabulous idea! Hummingbirds deserve real food too, right? ;-D I would appreciate it if you linked up to Homemade Mondays! http://beingfrugalbychoice.blogspot.com/2013/07/homemade-mondays-week-36.html

    Reply
  31. Linda @ A La Carte

    My friend makes the nectar all the time for the hummingbirds. I like your idea of not heating all the water just what you need. Thanks for sharing this at TTF this week. Linda

    Reply
  32. Leah

    I think I am going to get a hummingbird feeder because I know my son would love seeing them and this is such an easy recipe! Thanks for sharing at the Friday Follow Along.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Leah, as soon as the feeder is out, the hummers will appear. Years ago we had no idea we even had hummers out here until the feeder went up. LOL ~TMR~

      Reply
  33. Nancy Stewart

    Thank you for your blog. I always thought I had to boil the water for my feeder. I like this idea much better.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Nancy, I’ve heard people say they boil the water to remove ‘bacteria in the water’, but I’ve never really understood that. Hummers naturally water from various natural sources, none of which have been purposely sanitized. When I make my nectar I use city tap water that I feel comfortable drinking myself so I can’t imagine that there’s any danger using that water. Plus I wash the feeder out when I refill it so I’m comfortable with the sanitation there as well. The hummingbirds really love the nectar so this is the procedure we’ve used successfully for years. ~TMR~

      Reply
  34. Katie Homemaker

    You are right about the birds not needing food coloring. I was slow at getting my feeder up this spring, and while they were waiting, one flew onto the porch and right over to my big red watering can. The poor guy stuck his little beak in there , looking for nectar. It was so cute! It must have looked like the world’s largest hummingbird feeder!

    Reply

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