How to Make Hummingbird Nectar

How to Make Hummingbird Nectar
©Jeff R Clow / Getty Images
By Kier Holmes, Martha Stewart

Hummingbirds are spectacular to watch (Especially if you know that they can hover like a helicopter), are the only birds that can fly backward, and are aptly named because of the sound created by their insanely fast-beating wings. In fact, some species' wings can flap roughly 50 times a second and as high as 200 times a second.

Hummingbirds also have an extremely high metabolism due to their rapid wing rate so they have to visit hundreds of flowers a day. Here's where you come in: By making your own hummingbird nectar, you're helping these winged beauties get the glucose energy they need to keep on humming.

To make your own hummingbird nectar, you'll need to mix one part refined white sugar with four parts warm tap water until the sugar is dissolved. Fill your hummingbird feeder with the cooled sugar water and place it outside. Any extra sugar water you make can be stored in a refrigerator until it's time to refill your feeders.

Why not add red dye? Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red because it reminds them of nectar-rich flowers, but red food coloring isn't needed to attract hummingbirds and could actually harm the birds. Instead, use a red feeder for the same alluring effect. Can you use other types of sugar? While some of us prefer raw sugars or sugar substitutes like honey, hummingbirds don't. They are good with refined white sugar (also known as regular table sugar).

Hang your feeder in a partly shaded area away from any locations filled with a lot of activity. The best place is near trees or some shelter because hummingbirds are territorial and so they hang out on branches and then quickly chase away intruders invading their feeding spot. They also like a shaded place to rest and conserve energy.

Depending on the weather and if your nectar gets a lot of sunlight (the sun heats up nectar and can cause it to ferment and spoil), change the solution every other day. Also, be sure to thoroughly clean the feeder each time to prevent the growth of mold.

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