Make Your Own Hummingbird Food

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Like most folks, RancherMan & I enjoy the hummingbirds. When we first moved here we didn’t see any hummingbirds. But apparently putting out a feeder brought them out of all corners of our homestead!

Back in “the day” I just bought the packages of dry powdered red stuff for my feeder. 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.

Make hummingbird nectar at home for a fraction of the cost of buying the commercial stuff - only two ingredients! Read how #TexasHomesteader

Our 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.

Hummingbird Food – Only 2 Simple Ingredients!

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!

Sugar / Water Ratio

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.

To make things easy I don’t heat the entire cup of water, just enough necessary to dissolve the sugar. That way I can dump the room-temp portion into the hotter water to cool it faster.

So in a microwaveable-safe container I heat that small amount of water until it’s almost boiling, Then I 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 and cool it a bit.

This heating 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. Just a few seconds does the trick.

Plus 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! 😀

Make hummingbird nectar at home for a fraction of the cost of buying the commercial stuff - only two ingredients! Read how #TexasHomesteader

But… What About The Red Coloring?

As a side note: I’ve always read that coloring of the nectar is not necessary. But wait a minute? They’re supposed to be attracted to the color red. How are you going to attract hummingbirds if the nectar isn’t red??

But when you think about it, the plant doesn’t attract the hummingbird, but only the small flower they feed upon. 

How does that compare to a feeder? Well most every hummingbird feeder has a brightly colored flower-shaped feeding tube. That’s the part that will attract the hummingbird, not the color of the nectar. 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 all thank you.

Plus it’ll be yet another thing to cross off your shopping list!


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38 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

    1. Texas Homesteader 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.

  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!

    1. Texas Homesteader 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.

  3. Beth

    What a peaceful way to wake up, to hummingbirds! Thanks for sharing with Simply Natural Saturdays.

  4. Name*

    That’s so cool that you made your own hummingbird nectar!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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,

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

    1. Texas Homesteader 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.

  12. Karen S.

    Sounds like an interesting project!

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. Christy

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

  16. 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.


  17. 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.

  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.

  19. Millie

    Great tip on not heating all of the water. Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday.

  20. 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.

  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!

  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.

  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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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:

  26. 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. 🙂

  27. 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

  28. 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!

  29. 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.


  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    1. Texas Homesteader 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.

  32. 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!


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