We recently moved from the city to the country, and one of my favorite things about our new home is the yard. Some yard discoveries (like the ticks) I could really do without, but others (like the butterfly-magnet milkweed growing along the driveway) have been a delight. Hoping to add hummingbirds to our list of animal visitors, I recently picked up a hummingbird feeder from our local hardware store and set about learning how to make homemade hummingbird food to fill it.
A few notes about hummingbirds and hummingbird food.
When can you see hummingbirds in New England?
Hummingbirds, like the ruby-throated hummingbird commonly seen in New England, typically arrive in late April or early May and migrate to Mexico and Central America in the early autumn. You can learn more about New England hummingbird species here.
Why are hummingbird feeders red?
Hummingbirds are especially drawn to brightly colored flowers, which is why most hummingbird feeders and containers of store-bought nectar are red. If you really want to attract hummingbirds, you can add plants that attract hummingbirds to your yard or garden in addition to hanging a feeder.
How often do hummingbirds eat?
Hummingbirds consume approximately half their weight in sugar every day, meaning the average bird feeds five to eight times per hour — so keep that feeder full! They also eat small insects (but not ticks, unfortunately).
How to Make Homemade Hummingbird Food
Homemade hummingbird nectar is so easy to make there’s really no reason to buy it, and by making your own, you can be sure it’s safe for the birds to eat. Remember to change the nectar and clean your feeder regularly.
Homemade Hummingbird Food Ingredients
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups water
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and water and bring it to a boil. Boil for three minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Fill your feeder, and enjoy! Store leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks. Yields 4 cups.
After filling and hanging our feeder, we watched and waited, and before long, we had our first visitor. A female ruby-throated hummingbird zipped over, sipped from the feeder, and was gone before I could even reach for my camera. With any luck, before the summer is over I’ll be able to get a few good photos. In the meantime, though, I’m happy to watch her come and go while I wash the dishes.
Do you look forward to seeing hummingbirds every year? Have you ever made homemade hummingbird food? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated.
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