The Best Hummingbird Nectar: A Product Review and Guide to Making Your Own

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Hummingbirds know how to find the sweeter things in life, and if you can offer them the best, they’ll be sure to flock to your yard. And who wouldn’t want to give the best to hummingbirds? They’re some of the most amazing animals in existence, and they’re just so unbelievably cute!

So what does “the best” mean when it comes to hummingbirds? Nectar, and lots of it! In this article, we’ll break down the sugary stuff: what should and shouldn’t be in it, how to make your own, what kind to buy, and what hummingbirds prefer.

This is the ultimate guide to the best hummingbird nectar!

What Hummingbird Nectar is Best?

The best kind of nectar to offer hummingbirds is a solution of one part white cane sugar dissolved in four parts tap water. This is the closest substitute for the natural nectar they would naturally drink from flowers.

That’s all it takes–nothing else is needed. In fact, including anything else can be harmful.

Should I Buy It or Make It?

It’s easy and inexpensive to make nectar for hummingbirds. There are only two ingredients: sugar and water. You probably already have refined sugar on hand, so you can make more nectar whenever necessary. Since keeping hummingbird feeders clean and the nectar fresh are both vital, this is definitely an advantage.

Homemade nectar is an attractive option because it is easy and cheap to make nectar that gives hummingbirds everything they need. You also don’t have to worry that this mix will include any hidden additional ingredients that are bad for hummingbirds.

You can also buy hummingbird nectar, and it’s ultra-convenient to buy your nectar already mixed. It will offer your hummingbirds a consistent sugar ratio, and it’s easy to store. But it’s considerably more expensive than a homemade batch of sugar water, and despite any marketing myths about preservatives–which aren’t safe for hummingbirds–you’ll have to change it out just as often.

If you do go the commercial route, read the ingredients carefully. Make sure you choose nectar free from dyes, artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives. 

According to the Tucson Audubon Society, while captive hummingbirds may need supplements in their nectar, like calcium or other minerals, wild hummingbirds don’t. They will eat insects and other naturally-occurring foods to balance their diets. So there’s no need for any of the “extras” some companies add to their nectar solutions.

In particular, hummingbirds do not need the supplemental electrolytes added to many nectar mixes on the market. Hummingbirds produce concentrated urine that preserves electrolytes, so including more in their nectar could hurt them.

Do Hummingbirds Prefer Clear or Red Nectar?

Clear nectar solutions are best for hummingbirds. It’s the same as the fluid they drink from flowers in the wild. Food dyes could hurt the birds and aren’t necessary for them to find your feeder. 

Red plastic feeders and nearby nectar-producing flowers will give the hummingbirds plenty of signals to tell them that they can find nectar at your feeder.

Is Honey Better Than Sugar for Hummingbirds?

Honey is not safe for hummingbirds and should never be used in a nectar feeder. It grows mold that is deadly to the hummingbirds. Plain, white table sugar is the only safe sweetener to use in a nectar solution. 

Do I Need to Boil Sugar Water for Hummingbirds?

While it’s not required, boiling the water helps the sugar crystals dissolve faster. You can simply stir the water until the granulated sugar is thoroughly dissolved. You also don’t have to buy bottled water to mix hummingbird nectar. The regular water from your tap is just fine.

What is the Correct Ratio of Sugar to Water for Hummingbirds?

The ratio of sugar to water for hummingbirds is one part sugar to four parts water. That’s ¼ cup of sugar to one cup of water in a homemade mix, or 80% water and 20% sucrose in a commercial mix. Some people will mix a higher ratio of sugar into their water, mistakenly believing it will be sweeter and attract more hummingbirds. But this can actually make the nectar thicker, like a syrup.

Over a few days, the water in your mix will evaporate, changing the ratio. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to keep your feeders freshly stocked. The other reason is that sugar water spoils very rapidly, sickening hummingbirds. 

What Nectar is Best for Hummingbirds?

best hummingbird nectar

Looking for store-bought nectar for hummingbirds? It can be tricky. The sad truth is that most nectars on the market are not safe for birds.

Here are some brands that get it right. These are dye-free, sucrose-based nectars without any unnecessary additives or preservatives. Keep in mind that some of these brands have alternative products that DO contain red dye and preservatives. Read carefully before making any purchases.

EZ-Nectar Happy Hummers! Ready-to-Use Hummingbird Nectar

EZNectar Happy Hummers! Clear Ready-To-Use Hummingbird Nectar, 33.8 oz
  • EZNectar will donate 100% of its profits to healthy bird and pollinator preservation causes.
  • Now, finally available! The only ready-to-use hummingbird "just like flower" nectar.
  • U.S. Patented because it is sugar & water only, and ready-to-use. No chemical preservatives or dyes.

Last update on 2022-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This nectar is ready to just pour into your feeder, so it’s the ultimate convenience. The rest can be stored in your fridge. Happy Hummers boasts its all-natural approach with no dyes or preservatives. 

More Birds Bird+ Simply Nectar

This More Birds Bird+ Simply Nectar nectar is ready to use right out of the box, or even while in the box–they have a spout you can use so that the box of nectar itself can be hung as a feeder. It’s completely free of dyes and preservatives.

Songbird Essentials Clear Hummingbird Nectar

Last update on 2022-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This mix is a powdered concentrate. Since it’s sucrose without any additives, it’s essentially just sugar, although some reviewers say that the finely ground powder makes it easier to mix. We’re including it on this list because it doesn’t have any dyes or preservatives, so it is hummingbird safe.

What is the Best Recipe for Hummingbird Nectar?

The Audubon Society’s basic hummingbird nectar recipe is the standard: bring 1 cup of tap water to a boil on the stove. Mix in ¼ cup of regular white sugar and stir until dissolved. Let it cool completely before you put it in your clean feeder.

This formula has everything the hummingbirds need in nectar–it’s really that simple!

What Kind of Sugar Can I Use?

The only safe sugar for hummingbirds is refined white table sugar. Don’t ever use artificial sweeteners; they don’t give hummingbirds any energy. Also, avoid organic sugar, brown sugar, agave, honey, corn syrup, and other sweeteners, which present assorted health hazards for the hummingbirds.

Table sugar is sucrose, the best kind of sugar for hummingbirds and what their bodies handle most efficiently. Look for sucrose as the only sugar ingredient if you choose commercial nectar.

How Long Can I Store Extra Sugar Water in the Fridge?

You can store extra hummingbird nectar in a glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. But keep an eye on it–if there are any signs of mold, throw it out and start over.

Sweet on Hummingbirds

There’s no better way to invite a hummingbird to your backyard than to offer their favorite sweet treat: nectar. Thanks to the hummingbird’s wildly efficient, sugar-burning metabolism, nectar is an energy feast for them.

Keep feeders clean at all times and safely stocked with fresh nectar. Stay away from red dye, additives, and preservatives. The hummingbirds will thank you with their aerial acrobatics, feathered beauty, and a fascinating glimpse into their astonishing lives.

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Stevie Miller

Stevie Miller is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her lifelong passion for birds began young, starting with a citizen science project at her aunt’s bird feeders, followed by a memorable first-time birdwatching trip to Assateague Island. Later, she got the opportunity to help birds directly while working as a veterinary assistant. Now she enjoys frequent time outdoors, traveling extensively to observe the birds, animals, and plants that inspire her writing and artwork.