Hummingbird Happiness

If you know anything about me, you know I’m absolutely head over heels in love with hummingbirds. From their sweet chirps to their tiny yet powerful wings, every spring I anxiously anticipate their return. The first day they show up at the feeder easily becomes my new favorite day. I’m also obsessed with taking photos of them, easily spending countless hours trying to capture great shots of them but that’s another post entirely.

A rare occasion, this tiny, Ruby-throated hummingbird had the feeder all to itself for the moment. (Odenton, Maryland)

There’s a simple sugar water recipe that I follow to keep my hummingbirds happy and healthy all summer-long.

Small Batch Recipe: Always a 1:4 Ratio
• 1/4 cup of plain, white, table sugar
• 1 cup water

• In a medium pot, bring water to a boil ( I use bottled spring water)
• Add 1 cup of boiled water to a glass measuring cup
• Add 1/4 cup of white, table sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved
• Let cool completely.
• Make sure your hummingbird feeder is clean and free from mold
• Fill up your feeder and enjoy! You can store any leftover in the fridge, I’d say 2-3 days max, if you’d like but I just make fresh batches every time.

Change the sugar water every 2-3 days and more frequently in the summer and if your feeder is in direct sun. Make sure to check the feeder frequently for mold or cloudy sugar water. Cloudy water means the sugar is in the process of turning to alcohol and while a few sips of an adult beverage may be nice for you, hummingbirds don’t like feeling tipsy. If you see mold, take it down right away and clean it. I use a baby bottle brush and another type of small brush that I picked up from Lowes to clean the feeder tube channels. Use hot water and never use any bleach, chemicals, soap or cleaners. I’ve used a mild (like barely any at all) distilled white vinegar solution and let all of the feeder parts soak to ensure the feeders are really clean. Honestly, I’ve only used the vinegar solution once because my feeders really needed a good cleaning after a bad spoiled sugar water incident. I always just use hot water, the baby bottle brush and the smaller brush.

Two Ruby-thorated hummingbirds arguing over the feeder (Odenton, Maryland)

Please, don’t use the red-colored, pre-made hummingbird food or add red food coloring to your feeders. The pre-made mix is colored with red dye and I’ve read a few articles on how it’s not good for your little hummers! Besides, they’re natural creatures, they like to eat natural things and a red-accented hummingbird feeder will be enough to attract them to your yard. Believe me.

Anna’s hummingbird peacefully resting between his sugary drinks (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Also, you don’t need to add anything else to the feeder other than sugar water. No honey, no maple syrup, no artificial sweetener, no corn syrup, no fruit juice, nothing other than plain ol’ table sugar water. Sugar water will do just fine.

In the past 5 years, I’ve lived in 4 different locations (3 here in Maryland and 1 in Nevada) and I’ve always had hummingbirds show up using this tried and true method. I use clear glass feeder with red accents and homemade sugar water. That’s it!

Black-chinned male hummingbird outside my bathroom window (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Spring is here and summer will soon be upon us and that means prime time hummingbird season! So, get out there and have fun watching your adorable little summer friends visit your feeder. Once they get used to you being around, you may be able to catch some photos of them too! I’d love to hear your hummingbird stories by commenting below or you can share your stories and photos over at my Facebook page → here


    1. Thanks Barb! I’ve learned a lot about them over the years and it definitely doesn’t hurt to know a Master Gardener who passes along helpful info either. 🙂

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