Hummingbird Syrup Recipe – Here Come The Hummers!

Spring Time Heralds The Return Of
My Favorite Birds – The Hummingbirds

This is such a fun time of year … I start to be on the look-out for the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird to make its appearance at my house. Last night I figured I had better make up a small batch of my trusted hummingbird syrup nectar recipe. (Recipe is down below.)

Even though hummingbirds typically arrive in the greater Nashville area around mid-March, I live about 40 miles south of the Music City and thusly it seems it is never until right around April 15th (yes, TAX day!) that I get to see one.

Hummingbirds sitting in a hand

I don’t know if you are a hummingbird lover like I am, but if not … I encourage you to give it a try this year and make a batch of hummingbird syrup and place a feeder out in your garden or better yet, hang one outside a window. This way you’ll get to see all the cute antics and buzzing around they do. Hummers are very entertaining, for sure.

Once you hang out a feeder, I’ll bet it won’t be too long thereafter that you’ll have these little marvels buzzing and chirping all over your garden until Fall comes. Some of you in warmer climates, or other parts of the world may never be without these little fellas gracing your garden. You’re lucky. πŸ˜‰

So, since I am now officially on the hummingbird look-out, that means I’ve already made my batch of hummingbird syrup and have hung out the feeder. Then it dawned on me to post and give a heads-up to the rest of you to not forget “it’s hummer time of the year”. Are you ready for them?

I also thought I’d pass along the homemade syrup recipe I use and to also direct you to a website that will certainly prove to be helpful and interesting, especially if you’re new to the joys of hummingbirds. Those of you who already are into hummers may not be aware of this site. There’s tons of good info, photos and such.

I will highly recommend visiting which I found many years ago and have found it to be a trusty source of information and also the migration maps that are on that site are something I check every year. That’s where I saw that on March 28th this year, a Ruby-throat was spotted in Nashville and recorded.

Don’t Buy Expensive Store-Bought Nectar! Make Your Own

Not that I want to take a sale away from any retail establishment, but I learned early on that the packaged hummingbird nectar mix being sold is way too expensive as compared to how simple it is to make, but also that the red coloring that is put into the commercial mixes is possibly very BAD health-wise for these little guys. I have read in more than one place that red dye could cause tumors in hummingbirds.

Plus, they do NOT need to see a RED feeder or RED nectar solution in order to find it, or to be attracted to it. I can state this for a fact as:
     A) I had one feeder whose red feeder base got very bleached out by the sun, and it was more of a dull beige and those hummers never minded one bit! They found it without trouble, and;
     B) In all my feeders I only use my homemade nectar and it is crystal clear. Again … those hummers can always find the feeders, day in and day out.

Here’s the artificial nectar/syrup recipe I have used for years, and it’s one that you will find all over the internet and in hummingbird books. You can trust this one as being correct.

  1. Use one part ordinary white cane sugar to four parts water. Mix until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. As example: 1 cup of sugar + 4 cups of water.

    Though it is not necessary to boil the sugar and water mixture, I do. It certainly helps to dissolve the sugar quickly. The reason people think they have to boil the mixture is to “kill” the microorganisms that cause fermentation in the syrup. But this just isn’t true. The microorganisms actually are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills. This is why CLEANING your feeder and replenishing the syrup regularly is most important.

  2. Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Once you get the hang of how quickly you’ll be going through the syrup, you’ll know what size batches to mix up. Me … I only get a maximum of 4 hummers late in the summer. So they don’t consume too much.

    But I know of a hummer-lover who gets so many at her home that she uses up 5 lbs. of sugar every week! Whoa 😯 … she has so many hummingbirds flying around you wouldn’t believe it. (Yes … I am sort of jealous. Well, maybe just half as many as she gets would be fabulous!)

This homemade hummingbird syrup approximates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers that are favored by North American hummingbirds.

**Word of caution: Do NOT, I repeat do NOT add more sugar to the recipe thinking you will be doing the hummers a favor. It doesn’t work that way. Just like with us humans, a little sugar is OK, but too much is detrimental to our health.

It’s the same with hummingbirds. Plus they will be feeding from real flowers, so rest assured they are getting the nutrients they need. Just stick to the proportions of water + sugar in the recipe.

Oh, lest I forget, I don’t care what you read … everyone I know who feeds hummers has ants and other flying bugs getting attracted to the feeder. There are easy ways to combate this. I encourage you to look for the answer to this on the site I have referred you to.

My solution to combat ants is to use a little cup thingie that hangs in the middle of the feeder hanger. I found one at Wal-Mart for 98-cents. It holds water (or you can put a little cooking oil into it) and when the ants try to climb down the feeder hanger to try to get to the feeder openings, they can’t. They hit the water (or oil) in the cup’s bottom and that’s as far as they can go. Works like a charm for me!

Hummingbirds landing one a hand And before I end this post, I had to include this photo that is another shot taken along with the one up above. I am sooo jealous of her …

Get your hummingbird syrup ready … get your feeder positioned … and wait for the fun to begin!


  1. awesome! i love hummers too and have had my feeder
    out for 2 weeks and have em already…im in arkansas..central below little rock…

    I twittered you post!

  2. I’m in Memphis and I’m definitely going to have to get out the feeders and start making syrup. I have always waited later in the season to put them out, but that’s about to change. Thanks so much for the info. I also have a few flowers in bloom and many more coming soon.

    BTW, I’ve never bought any packaged hummingbird nectar and have always made my own using sugar and water (1:4).


  3. I’m north west of Austin TX. The first year we lived out here we got our feeders out early enough to catch the migration and for a few weeks had up to two dozen of the little guys buzzing around. During most of the year we generally have 4-6 “regulars.” Among their antics that I enjoy: they look into our big front window when the feeders are empty, like they’re saying, “hey! where’s our food!?!”

  4. Bonnie Allen says:

    I love hummers, too. Thank you so much for the information. We had about 15 feed last year and they were wonderful, but not friendly with one another. Hope to have more this year with more feeders. Love your articles.

  5. I live in Spain. In Europe we donΒ΄t have such a beautifull birds. Here, those who announce spring are storks, wich are not so handable. They are arriving fron cenratl Africa to spend the summer here and breed.
    Thanks for for your regular information.
    Saludos desde EspaΓ±a,

  6. Hi Javier:
    Hello my friend in Spain πŸ™‚

    Storks! Wow … maybe not able to be hand fed but nonetheless, I am sure they are something to watch.

    Thanks for letting us know.

  7. Hi Bonnie:
    Yes you’re right … they are NOT very friendly to each other, are they. That’s where all the “antics” come into play, don’t you agree?

    15 hummers, I’d sure like that. Tops I’ve ever seen at one time at my feeder is 5.

  8. Hi Janice:
    How neat … they are trying to give you a heads up to feed them! πŸ™‚

  9. Hi Don:
    I still haven’t seen one yet … unless I just haven’t been staring out my window at the right time.

    We are on “high alert” hummer watch right now! lol

  10. Hey Jason from Arkansas:
    Thx for the twitter. πŸ™‚

  11. Mary Lou says:

    Hi There,
    I was looking at your page and do enjoy it so much.

    I love Hummers. I am wondering why that the hummers don’t seem to come around here until about the end of June or up in July…I live in Cookeville, Tennessee. I put my feeders out in April or May and in no time I see a set of them, well for a day or so that is. Then I see them no more till like I said June or so.

    Now my Brother has them a long time before I do…he lives on a mountain about 20 miles away. Could living up there they come sooner?

    There is a man who lives in Baxter, Tenn. not far from us. He says he puts his feeders out in April. He was in the Magazine Birds and Blooms a couple years ago.

    So really my question is why don’t they come any sooner here as they do all around us???

    Oh yeah – last year we had yellow jackets so bad that the hummers could not eat. Could never find their nest though.

    Hope to hear from you. Mary Lou

  12. Claudia says:

    Hi Mary Lou:
    Thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

    To “try” and answer your questions, I can offer this … I only had ONE (that I am aware of) hummmer show up a couple days after April 15th, and now NONE! And that is normally the way it happens every year.

    Haven’t seen another one since then, but let me tell you this – I have kind of the same experience you do in that every year one hummer shows up and then I don’t see it again until (maybe) June.

    I chalked that up to evidently it/they were nesting somewhere. Because then in June voila! Normally a skinny little female will appear, and with her what I believe to be a “junior” and every now and then the Dad shows up, too.

    That’s why I attribute their disapearance to nesting. This is a COMPLETELY unscientific opinion, mind you.

    And why don’t you get them sooner in Cookeville than I do here in Spring Hill?? No clue! Doesn’t seem to make sense, but then again there must be something about your city/area, or even perhaps just something about your particular home’s location that doesn’t seem attractive to them in early Spring???

    Maybe somebody reading these comments will post their opinion.

    Anyway, even though I haven’t seen a hummer now in about 3-weeks, I am still keeping a little syrup in the feeder, and cleaning and replenishing it as needed in anticipation of a Mama’s and Baby’s return. πŸ˜‰

  13. Hi Claudia

    I’m trying to attract birds to my garden with bird feeders and plants for birds etc……I have read this article and can you tell me if this is placed in a dish on a bird feeder? Please as i cant wait to give it a try? I’ll let you know the outcome.

  14. Hi Barbara:

    Well traditionally you would want to use this syrup recipe in some sort of a hummer feeder. You *could* put it in a dish, but let me mention the negatives that make using an open dish not the best idea:

    ANTS, BEES and WASPS!! Oh yeah … these buggers LOVE sugar syrup, and trust me they can be a nuisance even with hanging feeders. The ants will crawl down the wire or hook that you use to hang your feeder, and bees and/or wasps will be buzzing around, trying to get many tastes of the syrup.

    Now in my case, I have conquered the ant problem (will tell you how in a minute), but the wasps still pester me and the poor hummers. If a wasp is buzzing around one of the feeding holes that a hummer wants to drink from … that !@%$#%@ stinkin’ wasp will go right after the hummer, chasing it away. And more often than not, the poor little hummer flies away, giving in to the wasp. So … since there isn’t too much I can do about it, I do keep a spray bottle filled with water that can also shoot a “stream” of water (like a squirt gun) on my front porch and whenever I am out on my front porch, it has become a sport of sorts to take revenge upon the wasps by squiritng them with water until THEY give up and fly away.

    This all being said … normally it’s only one dang wasp hanging around … rarely do I have two. So don’t worry that you’re going to have a stampede of them … but then again … you might not even has this problem at all. I am sure it all depends upon where the feeder is hung, where you live, etc. etc.

    Now on to conquering ants …. ants don’t like vegetable oil. So, I bought this little black cup that is made specifically for holding a small reservoir of liquid – in this case vegetable oil – and it gets placed between the feeder and the main hanging wire. so when the ants crawl down the wire trying to get to the feeder … they are stopped by a pool of oil! πŸ™‚ And that has completely ended my ant problem.

    Before I found the cup (99-cents) I had made my own from a small plastic bottle bottom. Maybe I will post the “how-tos” on how I did it one of these days. I think I threw it out, so can’t take a photo of it to post. Sorry.

    So, my dear, you can *try* an open dish, but if it were me, I’d go to a dollar store or Wal-Mart or similar budget-type store and buy a plastic feeder. They are only around $4 – $5 at most for small ones, and if you don’t have too many hummers show up (which unfortunately is my case due to where I live) … one feeder can bring you and the hummers a lot of enjoyment!

  15. Sana Overstreet says:

    Thank you for sharing this suet information with all of us. I have been looking around for this info, thanks!

  16. J. Choo says:

    I am grateful to have observed this site. Thank you for sharing the informational postings.

  17. Ron Gavisk says:

    You may doubtless be surprised to discover from your perusal of this communication that, I am now “Hummingbird Lover!” How do you encourage the Hummers to rest on your hand? One of the Hummers that came to my feeder, after many trips, came very close to my face! Needless to say I raised my hand in front of my face instinctively, as if to think the Hummer might fly into my eye and/or “Peck Me,” ha! That did not happen however, I see the Hummers on your hand, and now I am encouraged to hold my hand out to allow the Hummer to perch, as if saying Hello!

    I am 70-years of age, retired electronic engineer, and can already imagine helpful items to “Invent” for the Hummers! They are so beautiful, and I love them dearly, already! Also, I set out on the covered porch at the Table, waiting to watch them come and feed (two Hummers to date), they even land on the feeder and take their time feeding! One at a time so far! Ha! Thank you for your Picture, and article on Hummers! Bless you, Ron G.

  18. Hi Ron:

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write this comment. First, let me clarify that the photo of the woman with the hummers in her hand is not me … I found that photo online and had to include it in this article because it is, well … such a great photo! I too would like to be able to have hummers come land in my hand. I guess like anything else in life, it takes patience and persistence to get that to happen. I would assume that first the hummers would have to be very confident about having you around, and then over time would finally trust you enough to feel safe enough to land on you.

    However, I will wager that you would have to have some hummer syrup in a small container in your hand, in order to entice them to come and land in your hand.

    Since you said you’re thinking of things to invent to attract them, I did see an HGTV show many years ago where a gentleman had rigged up tiny hummer feeders on a hat. the feeders were suspended out from the hat and basically hung right in front of his face. the program showed him sitting there, with hummers buzzing all around him, and of course they were feeding from the feeders, too.

    You say you only have two and they “take their time feeding”. OH BOY … you’re in for a treat one of these days because evidently you’ve not yet experienced the “battle” that most often happens between them constantly to chase each other away from the feeder. I’ve only got 3 this year and all day they are chasing each other, swooping down, up and over, hovering in mid-air … you name it, it is truly a sight to behold. Their antics are what really will get you hooked and more in love with watching them.

    So … perhaps you can rig up a hat that has a couple of small feeders hanging from it and one day you’ll be writing back to say they are coming within 2-inches of your nose to feed! πŸ™‚

    Have fun!

  19. Lorraine Cullins says:

    I have been feeding dozens of hummers every year and the recipe i use is 1 cup of sugar to 2 cups of water, we use 5 feeders. When they all get here and r feeding,every hole is full and other ones fighting to get food,,so precious.

  20. Claudia says:

    Hi Lorraine:

    Thanks for commenting. You prompted me to share my personal thoughts on what I believe to be “good” ratios of sugar-to-water in hummingbird syrup recipes, and so I posted about it here: Homemade Hummingbird Syrup Recipe – How Much Sugar is Too Much?

    You’re lucky to have so many hummers – I’ve never had more than 4 or 5 at the height of their residency. They are a sight to behold, aren’t they! πŸ™‚

  21. actually arsenic has been found at “acceptable” concentrations in refined white sugar, thanks to “big pharma” and “con-agra”, and so refined white sugar ISN’T in any way, shape or form suitable for wildlife (or humans, especially our children.)
    Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are even worse.
    If you want truly to interact with hummingbirds, and be the closest to a flowers’ provisionary nectar- you need to use organic sugar or RAW unprocessed, unpasteurized honey. (recipe same as above).

    white refined sugar is one of the MANY chemical foods that is disrupting the endocrine function in humans and wildlife causing disease and death.

    be kind- don’t be “natural” ( a loosely defined word that encompasses and allows just about everything now that the FDA is bought out) …

    instead, BE ORGANIC!

    Lapsina- BS in Food Science and Nutrition

  22. Lapsina: thanks for your insightful comments.

  23. I put a feeder up last year and was lucky enough to attract about 2 dozen little hummers I always looked forward to having mu morning coffee on our back deck and watching them them all Buzz around. But because there were so many I’m definitely going to put up a second this year. Enjoy!!!

  24. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Lucky you, Patti! I’ve never had 24 hummers at any one time in the areas I’ve lived in 3 different states – those places were not high-traffic hummer locations, though I always did have a few at the feeder. So consider yourself fortunate! πŸ™‚

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