making sugar water for hummingbirds

How to Make Sugar Water for Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are exquisite creatures found throughout North and South America. They are one of the smallest bird species, with the Bee Hummingbird being the smallest of all, weighing just 2.6 grams. Feeding hummingbirds is a fun and rewarding activity, and one of the easiest ways to attract them is by providing sugar water in a hummingbird feeder. 

This post will discuss how to make sugar water for hummingbirds, including the right proportions of sugar and water and how to clean the feeder.

What is Sugar Water?

Sugar water is a solution made by dissolving granulated sugar in water. It is a common food source for hummingbirds because it gives them the energy they need to fly and maintain their high metabolism. Sugar water is an effective alternative to the nectar found in flowers, the primary food source for hummingbirds in the wild.

Ingredients and Supplies

To make sugar water for hummingbirds, you will need the following ingredients and supplies:

  • Granulated sugar: Use only white granulated sugar, as brown sugar or other sweeteners may harm hummingbirds.
  • Water: Use fresh, clean tap water or filtered water. Do not use distilled water, as it lacks essential minerals that hummingbirds need.
  • Hummingbird feeder: The feeder should be easy to clean. Also, it should take minimum effort to refill the feeder. Avoid feeders with yellow or red plastic parts, as they may attract bees or wasps.

Proportions of Sugar and Water

The correct proportions of sugar and water are essential for making sugar water for hummingbirds. The standard ratio is four parts water to one part sugar, which translates to a 20% sugar solution. This ratio mimics the natural sugar concentration in flower nectar, ranging from 18% to 25%.


Here are the steps to follow when making sugar water for hummingbirds:

  1. Boil the water: Bring the water to a boil to remove any impurities that may harm hummingbirds. Allow the water to cool to room temperature before mixing it with sugar.
  2. Add sugar: Measure the correct amount based on the ratio of four parts water to one part sugar. For example, if you use one cup of water, you must add 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves completely. 
  3. Fill the feeder: Pour the sugar water into the hummingbird feeder. Be careful not to overfill the feeder, as the sugar water may leak and attract ants or bees.
  4. Hang the feeder: Hang it in a shady spot where hummingbirds can easily spot it. Ensure it is at least five feet off the ground and away from any windows or bright lights that may confuse or injure hummingbirds.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Hummingbird feeders require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent mold and bacteria growth, which can harm hummingbirds. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your hummingbird feeder:

  • Clean the feeder at least once a week: Discard any remaining sugar water and rinse the feeder with hot water. Use a bottle brush or pipe cleaner to scrub the inside of the feeder, making sure to remove any mold or debris.
  • Avoid soap or detergent: Soap or detergent may leave harmful residue on hummingbirds. Rinse the feeder thoroughly with hot water after cleaning.
  • Replace the sugar water: Replace the sugar water in the feeder every 3-4 days, especially during hot weather or when the sugar water becomes cloudy or discoloured.
  • Check for bees and wasps: Check the feeder regularly for any signs of bees or wasps. If you notice any, move the feeder to a new location or switch to a feeder with bee guards.
  • Store the feeder properly: Store the feeder in a cool, dry place when not in use. Before refilling the feeder, ensure it is completely dry to prevent mold or bacteria growth.


Feeding hummingbirds with sugar water is a fun and rewarding activity that requires minimal effort. By following the right proportions of sugar and water, cleaning the feeder regularly, and providing a suitable environment, you can attract hummingbirds to your yard and observe these fascinating creatures up close. 

Always use fresh, clean water and white granulated sugar, and avoid using any sweeteners or additives that may harm hummingbirds. 

Happy birdwatching!

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