what do hummingbirds eat

What Do Hummingbirds Eat? Tips on How to Setup an Easy Hummingbird Buffet in your Yard

Everyone who has birds visit their backyards knows that hummingbirds drink sugar water, but what else do they eat? If you know what hummingbirds like to eat, you can set up a beautiful buffet in your backyard that will attract these adorable, tiny birds and meet all their nutritional needs. This will go a long way in helping these beautiful birds.

Learn about the different things hummingbirds like to eat and some amazing facts about their diet. 

What Do Hummingbirds Eat 

Hummingbirds mostly eat nectar from different flowers and small bugs like aphids, beetles, and mosquitos. Their long beaks that look like needles let them reach into flowers to get nectar. Occasionally, they will eat spiders and build their nests out of spiderwebs. These webs hold their nest together after they weave together twigs and other plant parts. They are also used to secure the nest to a base, like a branch of a tree.

Hummingbirds have a speedy metabolism, so they have to eat all day to stay alive. They eat about half of their body weight in bugs and nectar every day. Most hummingbirds eat every 10 to 15 minutes and visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers. They also eat small insects, beetles, ants, aphids, gnats, mosquitoes, and wasps. They get nectar from flowers and feeders.

Hummingbird Nectar

Hummingbirds get most of their nutrition from nectar, which they get from flowers or from sugar water solutions. Because nectar has a lot of sucrose, it gives hummingbirds the energy they need for their fast flight, high metabolism, and busy lives.

Since nectar is liquid, it also gives the birds the water they need. Hummingbirds don't usually get water from other places. However, they do not get all of the protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals they need from nectar, so they must eat other things to have a balanced and healthy diet. ​

Try out this recipe to make nectar for hummingbirds:

  • Mix 1 cup of white sugar that has been refined with 4 cups of water until the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Don't add dye or anything else to the mixture. 
  • You can store any extra sugar water in the fridge to use in the feeder in the next few days.

The Hummingbird Diet

Aside from nectar, hummingbirds eat a wide range of other foods to stay healthy. Here are some of the things they like to feast on.


Hummingbirds need to eat things like tiny insects, insect larvae, insect eggs, and spiders. These alternatives give these beautiful birds the fat, protein, and salts that they can't get from nectar. These are an essential part of their diet, especially for hatchlings who grow quickly.

Hummingbirds can catch insects in a number of ways. They can pick them off of bark, flowers, or leaves, hawk them in the air, or pull them out of spider webs or sticky sap.

An adult hummingbird needs to eat dozens of insects every day to get the amount of protein it needs to stay healthy. They will eat a lot more, though, if they need to regurgitate this nourishing food to feed hungry chicks or if they are on a long migration.


Hummingbirds may be drawn to ripe or juicy fruits. People have seen hummingbirds stealthily sip the juices from berries, apples, pears, and oranges that have been peeled, cut open, or have the flesh exposed in some other way.


When there isn't enough nectar, hummingbirds will drink tree sap from wells that woodpeckers have made. Even though tree sap isn't as sweet as flower nectar, it still gives hummingbirds enough sugar to meet their energy needs. The sap that has fallen and hardened on the tree trunk can't be drunk, but birds can use the sticky mess to catch insects.

Ashes and Sand

Some hummingbirds have been seen eating small amounts of ashes and sand. These foods can be a good source of minerals and salts that hummingbirds need, but they don't need much to meet their nutritional needs.

However, there is also a chance that the birds were picking insects out of the ashes or sand instead of eating them. 


Hummingbirds don't eat pollen, but when they sip nectar from flowers, a lot of pollen can get stuck to their tongues and bills. Some of that pollen is eaten, and even though it isn't the primary source of protein, it can be a small portion. Interestingly enough, less than 10% of the pollen that is eaten is actually digested. This shows that hummingbirds can eat this, but it's not something they often do.

Attracting Hummingbirds With Food

If you know what hummingbirds eat, you can set up a feeding station in your yard to feed hungry hummers. Think about the following if you want to provide hummingbirds with the right kinds of food:

  • Honeysuckle and coral bells are examples of native flowers, shrubs, and trees with nectar-rich blooms that you should plant. Most hummingbirds (and even other birds) will be attracted to red, tubular flowers, and if you choose hummingbird flowers that bloom all season, there will be enough nectar for months. You might want to take out the flowers that hummingbirds don't like and replace them with ones that produce more nectar.
  • Don't spray for bugs or spiders in your garden or around your house. Also, don't knock down their webs or do anything else that would bother the bugs. Instead, rely on hummingbirds and other birds that eat bugs to keep pests away. It's the natural way!
  • Fill hummingbird feeders with the right sugar solution to make them think they are getting something close to natural nectar. Hummingbirds are attracted to red feeders, and the recipe hummingbird nectar that we shared above is the closest to the amount of sucrose in the most popular flowers. 
  • Do not make nectar for hummingbirds out of honey, molasses, fruit juice, or artificial sweeteners. None of these things are good enough, and some of them could be dangerous to the birds.
  • Give hummingbirds places to sit near their favorite feeding spots so they can protect them. Many hummingbirds are very protective of their territory, and they will use a perch to watch for strangers. If they feel safe in the area, they will stay there and find it easier to find food.

Do Hummingbirds Eat Seeds?

No kind of seed is suitable for hummingbirds to eat. No species of hummingbird eats seed from a bird feeder. Their diet is made up of totally different things.

Some people think they see hummingbirds eating bird seed from bird feeders they bought or made themselves, but this is not true.

Why Do Hummingbirds Come to Seed Feeders?

Hummingbirds don't eat seeds, so if you're trying to feed a hummingbird with a seed feeder, it's not going to work. All hummingbirds are the same in this way.

Sometimes, a hummingbird will rest on a feeder in your garden on its way to or from a nearby food source. It may seem like hummingbirds are always on the move. But between flights to find food, they do need to stop and rest.

Male hummingbirds may also use a feeder or other perch to look over their territory and defend it from other birds. Male hummingbirds are very territorial, and they often fight with each other over their territories.

If it looks like hummingbirds are eating seeds, they may actually be eating small insects that are near or in your seed feeder.

Why Don't Hummingbirds Eat Seeds?

Hummingbirds don't eat seeds because their beaks and stomachs aren't made for this type of food, and they haven't changed to become a species that eats seeds.

The weak bill of a hummingbird is not suitable for cracking hard seeds. Instead, hummingbirds have beaks that are perfectly shaped to dip into the blooms of their favorite flowers, sip nectar, and swallow whole small insects.

Even hummingbird bills with teeth are not made to eat seeds. So, no matter what kind of hummingbird you feed in your yard, seeds are not a good choice.

The rate of their metabolism is also fast. Their digestive system is made so that waste moves quickly through it. Because they don't have gallbladders, hummingbirds can't digest seeds well because their digestive systems aren't made for them. This means that they can't eat seeds.

Seeds are a good source of protein for other kinds of birds, which is why they like to eat them. But hummingbirds get the amino acids they need by eating insects.

What is the Best Thing to Feed Hummingbirds?

The best way to feed the hummingbirds in your garden is to make sure it has a healthy ecosystem with plenty of natural sources of nectar and small insects for them to eat.

If you know when hummingbirds arrive and leave your area, or if you know what kinds of hummingbirds are there all year, you can make sure you have blooming flowers ready for them each season.

Hummingbirds eat nectar from flowers best, and having a lot of different colored flowers in your garden will bring in a lot of other animals that are good for your garden. Look for native species, and keep in mind that hummingbirds will be most interested in flowers that look like tubes and are brightly colored, like red or orange.

But don't forget that hummingbirds and the insects they eat will also visit flowers of many other colors, so if you want hummingbirds to visit your garden, plant as many different native flowers as you can, that have nectar.

Natural nectar from flowers is better than any artificial nectar. But adding a feeder with hummingbird nectar made from one part white sugar and four parts fresh water is a suitable substitute.

How could we assist you? 

Quackups is dedicated to assisting you in attracting your cherished birds to your garden with our indispensable hummingbird products. Our primary focus is on the preservation of the awe-inspiring, enchanting, and resilient Hummingbirds.

We specialize in offering products that facilitate nesting, play, survival, and feeding of their young within your yard. Among our highlighted offerings are the hummingbird home, solar-powered hummingbird fountain, and hummingbird nesting pods. These hummingbird accessories are deemed essential and for hummingbird enthusiasts.

Back to blog