Corrections and Clarifications: A previous version of this story included an incorrect ratio of water to sugar in hummingbird food.
There are over 300 species of hummingbirds in the world. Although these small and beautiful birds are restricted to North and South America, they can be found in a wide range of environments, from the tropics to deserts below sea level, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Although they tend to stick to tropical environments, 17 species are known in the United States, especially near the Mexican border, although most areas of the country have one or two species.
According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, the birds, known for their colorful feathers and long beaks, typically feed on flowers. However, hummingbirds have also been known to feed on small insects or sap pits created by woodpeckers.
These little birds can also be fed straight from your garden with a recipe that calls for two simple ingredients.
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How to make hummingbird food
Making hummingbird food only requires two simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
- Granulated sugar or table sugar
According to the Smithsonian, when making this nectar, you should use four parts water to one part sugar, which means four cups of water to one cup of sugar.
Stir the sugar and water mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved, then transfer the liquid to a hummingbird feeder.
Tap water is safe and doesn’t need to be boiled to create the nectar, according to the Smithsonian.
However, unprocessed sugars, raw sugars, honey, and corn syrup can be harmful to hummingbirds and should not be used as a substitute for granulated sugar when making hummingbird food. Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) should also not be used because it may contain cornstarch, according to the Smithsonian.
Some people like to add red food coloring to nectar because the color can attract hummingbirds to the feeder. The Smithsonian, however, says, “Don’t not add red dye,” and goes on to explain, “Red dye or coloring is not necessary to attract hummingbirds and could be harmful to birds. Also, most hummingbird feeders are already red, so dyeing the nectar might not be necessary.
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How long does hummingbird food last?
According to the Smithsonian, hummingbird feeders should be changed every other day and cleaned to prevent harmful mold growth. Extra hummingbird food can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, according to BlessThisMess.com.
Where and when should I install hummingbird feeders in my garden?
As hummingbirds migrate, your location dictates when you should place hummingbird food in your garden.
According to Bless This Mess, if you live in the southern United States, February through November is the optimal time to place feeders in your yard. In the northern part of the country, feeders can be placed from the beginning of May to September, while in the center of the country – from April to October.
To attract birds, place feeders in quiet places in your garden around tree branches. Birds like to perch on branches, says Bless This Mess.
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