How to Make Hummingbird Food

How to Make Hummingbird Food
by Jane Lake

Bee balm, hollyhock, hibiscus, trumpet honeysuckle, clematis, impatiens, phlox and fuchsias are some of the common flowers that will attract hummingbirds to your garden. But hanging a hummingbird feeder where you can easily see it is probably the best way to observe the hummingbirds in action.

There's no need to buy expensive hummingbird nectar - make your own, from this simple hummingbird syrup recipe.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

1 part sugar/4 parts water

Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.

Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use.

Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.
You will need to clean your feeder about once a week. According to the National Audubon Society, this should be done by rinsing with one part white vinegar to four parts water. If the feeder is dirty, try adding a few grains of dry rice to the vinegar solution to help scrub it clean. Follow the vinegar wash by rinsing three times with clear, warm water before refilling with sugar solution.

The wing beat rate of hummingbirds varies by species, with the common Ruby-Throated Hummingbird averaging a wing beat of about 53 per second, seen by the human eye as a blur. The wings move in a figure eight pattern to produce the gravity-defying hover effect for which hummers are famous. The energy needs of this little bird are amazing - they must feed every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day, consuming up to two thirds of their body weight in food. An important part of the hummingbird diet is sugar, from flower nectar, tree sap and, of course, backyard feeders.

Hummingbirds cannot smell and depend on their eyesight to seek out flowers and food sources. Inexpensive hummingbird feeders are readily available and will attract the busy little birds without the need for coloring the food - the bright red container and easy food source will keep them coming throughout the day.

Since hummingbirds are territorial, you may want to hang two feeders - one in the back yard and one in the front, to accomodate as many hummingbirds as you can. Hanging the feeders in a shady spot will discourage fermentation and spoilage of the nectar.

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