Feeding hummingbirds can be a very fun, enjoyable experience at home. The different breeds are beautiful birds, and they usually only stop by during certain times of the year.
In order to see them frequently, it helps to add a hummingbird feeder with nectar to the yard. What exactly do hummingbirds eat though? Can it be made at home?
Below is a closer look at hummingbird nectar. It is the fuel that keeps them moving along, so getting the recipe just right is essential for their health.
Hummingbird Sugar Water Recipe – How to Make Hummingbird Food Step by Step
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For those people who have never made their own hummingbird nectar, they might feel like it could be a potentially difficult process. The fact is, hummingbirds have a pretty simple diet. It does not take much to make a nectar that will bring them to a yard very quickly.
Only two ingredients are needed, and that is refined white sugar and water. It is important to use refined white sugar instead of other options out there. This is going to help out with the nutrition of the hummingbirds. They are not able to process options like honey, corn syrup or unprocessed sugars as well.
When mixing the two ingredients together, remember that it is one part sugar, four parts water. If a person is looking to fill up a small hummingbird feeder, they might start with one cup of water and 1/4 cup of refined white sugar.
Some people will warm up the water to help speed up the mixing process a bit. It is not necessary, but if it is warmed up or boiled, make sure to bring it back down to room temperature before putting it out for the hummingbirds. Nectar that is too warm is going to potential he harm hummingbirds if they tried to consume it. For that reason, people should try to keep feeders out of direct sunlight when possible.
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Facts about Hummingbird Nectar
Hummingbirds rely on nectar for about 90% of their diet. The other 10% comes from flies, wasps, beetles, ants and more. Nectar is good for the hummingbirds because it can be digested quickly and used as energy. Hummingbirds use a lot of energy throughout the day, so feeding multiple times is not uncommon.
On average, hummingbirds will consume about 50% of their weight each day and sugar. They burn off the sugar with a very high metabolic rate, so it is almost impossible for them to be overweight.
At times, hummingbirds and you need to conserve energy. When that is the case, they become mentally and physically in active. This allows them to reduce their heart rate to as low as 50 bpm. They can almost appear like they are dead in the state, but it does not take long for them to revive. Sometimes people will spot hummingbirds in this state right before they begin the long migration journey.
Buying vs Making your Own Hummingbird Food
Buying hummingbird food is pretty easy, especially with online retailers being so prevalent now. With that being said, a lot of people realize that making hummingbird food is not difficult. It saves money to make the nectar at home.
Importance of Cleaning + How to Clean your Hummingbird Feeder
Cleaning the hummingbird feeder on a consistent basis is important. Mainly, it helps to stop any potential mold from growing. This can be a big issue in the summer months especially.
Most of the time, all it really takes is a thorough rinsing before it is good to go. Make sure to clean off any nectar residue that might be sticking to the side of the feeder. Soap can be used to get a feeder very clean, but make sure everything is rinsed off well so that it does not make things complicated in any way.
Those new to feeding hummingbirds usually have a few questions. Here are a few of the most popular ones, with answers.
Can I use tap water?
Tap water is something that is perfectly fine to use for hummingbirds. There is nothing in typical tap water that can harm hummingbirds. Since tap water is extremely easy to have access to, most people do not even bother with alternative options.
Bottled water is also perfectly fine to use, and some people feel like the extra touch is worth it. How many birds are very unlikely to notice, but just about any type of water is going to work just fine.
Should I boil the water?
Boiling the water is never necessary, save for some very unique situations where a person lives in an area with current water issues. Some people do like working with warmer water when they are making the nectar. It helps with the mixing process, and the nectar seems to be more consistent.
Once the nectar is actually served, it is best to aim for room temperature. If it is too warm or too cold, hummingbirds will have a very difficult time consuming the nectar and moving right along. It can be tougher on their digestive system, which can be problematic if they are in the middle of a long journey.
What kind of sugar can I use?
The right type of sugar is very important when feeding hummingbirds. Refined white sugar is the only option people should use. This is the regular type of table sugar most people are familiar with, so chances are there will be enough to make an initial batch of nectar.
When in a bind, it might be tempting to use corn syrup or unprocessed sugars in the cabinet. This might not seem like much of a difference to humans, but hummingbirds will definitely notice. Not only are they less likely to be attracted to the nectar, but it can be tougher for them to process if they do consume it.
How long can I store extra sugar water in the fridge?
If a person is looking to save a little bit of time, they can make the nectar in bulk. Just make sure that no more than two weeks of sugar water is actually made at a time. That is about the proper lifespan for it to be stuck in the fridge. After that, mold can easily start to grow.
How often should I change the nectar in my hummingbird feeder?
Those people who have a very popular hummingbird feeder should consider changing out the nectar every single day. More often than not, there will be very little nectar left at the end of each day. It still helps to clean things out, keep the feeder clean and extend the life of the feeder.
Those who do not get quite that many hummingbirds can go two or three days without needing to replenish the feeder. Anything beyond that, and the nectar can start to grow mold outside. It also just becomes a little less attractive to hummingbirds after being out in the weather for so long.
Is red dye harmful to hummingbirds?
The color red does stand out the hummingbirds, but not when it comes to nectar. The feeder itself can be red, but the nectar should be its natural color. Not only is it completely unnecessary, but sometimes food coloring can have harmful ingredients in them. It is best to just stay away from all dyes for the safety of the hummingbirds.
What are the best flowers for attracting hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds love nectar, so it should come as no surprise that they are always seeking out flowers that produce a high amount. Salvias, trumpet honeysuckle, bleeding hearts and bee bombs are just a few flowers that really bring hummingbirds in.
Anything that is red and tubular is always going to be a favorite of hummingbirds. They sometimes struggle to find flowers that produce a lot of nectar in the wild, so having feeders and specific flowers for hummingbirds can really help out.