Do Hummingbirds Prefer Homemade Nectar? (Explained)


Hummingbirds have an extremely high metabolism which requires constant feeding on sugar-rich nectar, which makes flowers an essential element of their survival.

Hummingbirds also benefit from hummingbird feeders that you can place in your yard to provide extra nutrition.

Hummingbird nectar can be purchased at a store or homemade. One of the popular questions is whether hummingbirds prefer homemade or store-bought nectar.

It is unknown whether hummingbirds prefer homemade nectar over store-bought nectar because hummingbirds will feed on any available nectar source.

However, homemade hummingbird nectar is closer to natural nectar and is, therefore, best for the hummingbird’s health.

Can You Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar?

Yes, you can!

Making your own hummingbird nectar (also known as sugar water) is a straightforward process that requires minimal time, money, and effort.

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Should You Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar?

Hummingbird feeders are important for hummingbirds as they’re an additional food source that they utilize and help them gain their daily energy requirements.

Another benefit of making your own homemade nectar is that it is far cheaper than store-bought variants.

What Is Hummingbird Nectar Made From?

Hummingbird nectar comprises two main ingredients – plain white table sugar and tap water.

In store-bought hummingbird nectars, preservatives, dyes, and other chemicals are usually also found in the solution.

Is Homemade Or Store-Bought Nectar Dangerous To Hummingbirds?

Homemade hummingbird nectar is completely harmless to hummingbirds when made correctly because it only contains sugar and water, which is very similar to the main components of natural nectar.

The preservatives, dyes, and other chemicals found in store-bought nectar may negatively impact hummingbird health.

The typical preservatives found in store-bought nectar have been proven to be safe for human consumption, but their effect on hummingbirds is unknown.

Studies are yet to take place to determine whether chemicals harm hummingbirds, but it is known that the hummingbirds do not require them and do not attract them to the feeder.

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There is also no evidence to suggest that the dye is harmful in any way, either. However, many people are skeptical about the potential harm dye may cause hummingbirds because it can build up in their kidney systems.

Using homemade nectar prevents the artificial chemicals from entering the birds’ bodies and mitigates the potential harm.

Is It Necessary To Add Dye To Hummingbird Nectar?

No, adding dye to hummingbird nectar is unnecessary.

That is because the hummingbird feeders are often a bright color such as red, yellow, or orange. Those colors are strong enough to attract hummingbirds and make the color of the nectar redundant.

Another point is that natural nectar is colorless, which indicates that nectar substitutes don’t have to contain colorants.

What Is The Best Hummingbird Nectar Recipe?

Hummingbird nectar should be made in a way that closely replicates the sucrose concentration of between 20 and 25% found in natural nectar.

Hummingbird nectar or sugar water is made by mixing sugar and water to form a solution.

The correct concentration is achieved by mixing the sugar and water in a ratio of four parts water to one part sugar (4-to-1). An easy example to follow is to use one cup of sugar for every four cups of water added to the mixture.

Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved completely. A helpful tip is to use boiling water to help dissolve the sugar more rapidly.

The solution must be made correctly for the hummingbird’s health and provide the birds with the correct amount of energy.

Don’t add red or any other colored dye to the solution, and wait for the solution to cool down before giving it to the hummingbirds.

Don’t use other sweetening substitutes like honey, brown sugar, or artificial sweeteners because it harms the hummingbird’s health.

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What Is The 3-to-1 Hummingbird Food Solution?

The ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar increases the sucrose concentration in the solution.

The 3-to-1 ratio is particularly important for migrating birds in spring and autumn since they require more energy. The higher concentration of sugar in the solution provides that energy to the birds.

The extra sugar provides more calories to the hummingbirds when they stop to feed. It is also crucial for overwintering birds that use energy to keep their bodies warm and may require extra energy.

Do Hummingbirds Prefer Warm Or Cold Nectar?

Hummingbirds appear to prefer warm nectar because it releases a scent that attracts them.

However, hummingbirds will drink nectar, whether warm or cold, because they constantly require energy.

Cold nectar has detrimental effects on hummingbirds because it decreases their internal body temperature and may lead to hypothermia or death.

How Long Does Hummingbird Nectar Last?

Hummingbird nectar can be stored in containers at room temperature or in your refrigerator.

The best option is to put the nectar in a sealed container because it will prevent insects from getting into the solution.

Storing the solution in a refrigerator will prolong the storage time because it will not go rotten as quickly.

It is important to remember to take the solution out of the refrigerator and let it warm up before pouring it into the hummingbird feeder.

Hummingbird nectar should be stored for up to two weeks. It is a good idea to frequently replace the nectar in the feeder to prevent it from warming up too much and becoming a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.

In the feeders, replace the hummingbird nectar every two or three days when the weather is warm. You may need to replace the nectar more frequently if the weather scorches.

Remember to clean the feeders before placing new nectar in them to prevent contamination.

Keeping old nectar in the feeders could lead to the growth of bacteria and mold, which may harm the hummingbirds.

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What Is The Best Hummingbird Feeder?

Hummingbird feeders come in various shapes and sizes, but some are better than others.

The best hummingbird feeders are those shaped like a saucer. That is because the feeding wells are well separated, so there is less chance of the hummingbirds fighting over space and nectar. This type of feeder is also easy to clean and refill.

Color is one of the most important aspects when looking for a feeder. Brightly colored feeders, especially red ones, are the best.


Hummingbirds feed on store-bought and homemade nectar, and it is unknown which type they prefer. Homemade nectar is the healthier option.

It is easy to make nectar in your home by mixing water and sugar in a ratio of 4 to 1. Keep it simple by not adding unnecessary ingredients, such as dyes.

Preservatives found in commercial nectars are not known to harm hummingbirds, but the best practice is not to use them to stop the risk of causing harm to the hummingbirds in the future.

Hummingbird nectar can be stored for up to two weeks in a refrigerator so you can make excess nectar for future use. Just remember to clean the feeder and let the solution warm up after taking it out of the fridge.

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Tristan Silver

Tristan is a South African biologist, photographer, and birder. From a young age, he developed a passion for the outdoors, being taught basic biology and shown animals in their natural habitat. He picked up photography at age 11, and it led him into the world of birding and exploring. He has traveled throughout South Africa, documenting over 630 bird species. He is also interested in amphibians, reptiles, insects, and some plants. He uses photography to document his experiences and has had his photographs appear in African Birdlife magazine. Tristan holds an Advanced Scuba Diving qualification and has dived on many coral reefs. He completed his honours degree in Biological Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is also a writer, expressing and sharing his emotions from his experiences through his writing, combined with photographs.

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