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Spring is slowly creeping up on us this year and I am starting to see my tiny little flying friends return to the tree outside of my balcony. Last year, The Boyfriend and I spotted hummingbirds flying around our patio and we decided to buy a hummingbird feeder and see if we could make friends. It was the BEST addition to our budding apartment patio garden, attracting all sorts of hummingbirds during Spring, Summer, and Fall! Our little hummingbird friends began visiting us daily and we fell in love with feeding them, talking to them, and getting to know them individually.
Hummingbirds need a lot of food to survive
Even though hummingbirds are some of the smallest birds in the world, fluttering those itty bitty wings is a big workout! Hummingbirds flap their wings up to 90 beats per second, causing these little birds to burn calories fast. To maintain their energy, hummingbirds need to consume half their body weight in bugs and nectar, feeding every 10-15 minutes and visiting up to 2,000 flowers a day!
Ingredients are essential to bird health
You don't need much to make hummingbird nectar. It takes only two ingredients that you likely already have on hand; sugar and water! When making hummingbird nectar, it is crucial that you follow these tips to keep your hummingbirds healthy:
- Don't change the sugar to water ratio. Diluting the nectar will cause the hummingbirds to have to feed more often and can result in a loss of nutrients.
- Only use refined plain white sugar. Avoid using brown sugar, agave, powdered sugar, or organic sugars. Never use honey because it is toxic to hummingbirds!
- Red food coloring should NOT be added to hummingbird nectar because it can be dangerous to the health of the birds. Sheri Williamson of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO), and author of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds and Attracting and Feeding Hummingbirds, writes, “The bottom line is that ‘instant nectar’ products containing artificial coloring are at best a waste of your hard-earned money and at worst a source of disease, suffering, and premature death in hummingbirds.” A good hummingbird feeder is all that you need to attract hummingbirds.
- Clean your feeder in between nectar changes. If you notice mold in the nectar, take extra care to clean the feeder with soap and water. The feeder can be washed in the dishwasher as well!
The temperature demands frequent changes
Homemade hummingbird nectar doesn't contain any preservatives in it, so it's essential to change out your nectar frequently to prevent feeding moldy nectar to your little flying friends! How often you have to change the nectar is dependent upon the temperature outside. To make it easy for you to remember, I've created the chart above for you to reference when changing out the nectar in your feeder. Feel free to print it out and put it on your fridge to reference!
DIY Hummingbird Nectar
- In a medium-sized pan, bring water to a boil and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Fill your hummingbird feeder with the desired amount of nectar and store the rest in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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