What kind of sugar is best for hummingbirds?


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There are a few different types of sugar that you can use to make hummingbird food to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Different sugars have different benefits and drawbacks, but it is important to note that all sugars should be white, including white granulated sugar and natural cane sugar. Brown sugars can contain molasses or other additives that can make the nectar less appealing or even toxic.

The most popular sugar for making hummingbird food is white granulated sugar. This sugar is easy to find and is affordable. It also dissolves quickly in water, which makes it a good choice for making syrup.

Some people prefer to use natural cane sugar instead of sugar that has been refined. This can be beneficial because natural sugars contain traces of essential vitamins and minerals. The drawback to using natural cane sugar is that it does not dissolve as easily in water, so it takes more time to make the nectar.

Is white sugar safe for hummingbirds?

Your hummingbirds’ natural food source is flower nectar, which is a sugar solution that contains small amounts of electrolytes and amino acids. Flower nectar is mainly sucrose, as opposed to glucose or fructose. White sugar is also sucrose and is free of contaminants that are toxic to hummers, which is why it is the best kind of sugar to feed hummingbirds.

Can I feed hummingbirds organic sugar?

There is a lot of controversy about whether organic sugar is safe for hummingbirds. You’ll find many articles online that firmly argue against the use of organic sugar, mainly because they believe it may contain trace amounts of iron, which is highly toxic to hummingbirds. (This is also why you should avoid sugars that contain molasses, which has quite a bit of iron.) Most of these articles seem to be based on a single report, which many experts believe to be insufficient.

Is it okay to give hummingbirds beet sugar?

Beet sugar is safe for you to give hummingbirds. However, there are a few factors that make white cane sugar a better option. There is a higher likelihood for trace impurities in other types of granulated sugar, which can cause nectar to go bad more quickly. Beet sugar also has a slight odor to it that some hummingbirds may not like, while pure cane sugar is relatively odorless by comparison.

Which sugar concentration will attract the most hummingbirds?

The most commonly used concentration for hummingbird nectar is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. This means you can add 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar to 1 cup of hot water for fast and easy hummingbird nectar.

This solution is roughly 20% sugar, which is the closest approximation to the sugar concentration that you’ll find in the nectar of hummingbirds’ favorite flowers.

(It’s “roughly” 20% because the atomic weights of water and sugar molecules are different. It’s about 18.6%, but that’s certainly close enough to make your hummingbirds happy.)

The bottom line is that a 1:4 ratio of sugar to water is the ideal concentration to attract hummingbirds because it best resembles their natural food source.

Should I add red artificial food dye to my hummingbird feeder?

Some resources say you should add red food coloring to your mixture because the color red is known to attract hummingbirds. In truth, red coloring isn’t necessary to attract hummingbirds and the dye could contain ingredients that are harmful to them.

You should never add red dye or food coloring, or use a commercial mix that is dyed, as these can be very unhealthy for hummingbirds. Instead, you can incorporate the color red by using a feeder that is red or has red components.

Do I need to boil sugar water for hummingbirds?

You can make sugar water using water that is extremely hot and has not been boiled, as long as it is hot enough for the sugar to dissolve. However, this will not eliminate trace impurities as effectively as boiling. If your water quality is not ideal or you are making extra nectar to store for later, it’s best to boil your water before mixing.

Can I use tap water?

The absolute best water to use for hummingbird nectar is spring water or purified water, but tap water is safe. If you do choose to use tap water, make sure you are boiling it sufficiently to remove any impurities.

Hummingbird Sugar Water Recipe

As mentioned above, the ideal concentration for hummingbird nectar is 1 part sugar to every 4 parts water. This is true in most climates and at most times of the year, especially during dry weather. If the weather is foggy or stormy, your hummingbirds may need more energy and be less concerned about hydration. It’s fine to add as much as 1/3 of a cup of sugar to 1 cup of water in these conditions.

The best recipes for hummingbird nectar are quick and simple. You just add white granulated sugar to boiling water and wait for it to cool. Remember, you mustn’t add any coloring or other additives which could be dangerous to hummingbirds. You should never use molasses, brown sugar, honey, raw sugar, or powdered sugar.

Directions for making safe hummingbird food – Makes 1.25 Cups

  1. Boil 1 cup of water.
  2. Stir in 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar. Continue to stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Wait until the solution cools. You can place it in the refrigerator to cool more quickly.
  4. Check your hummingbird feeder to make sure it is clean.
  5. Fill your hummingbird feeder.
  6. Enjoy watching your feathered friends!

If you make any extra nectar beyond what will fit into your feeder, you can store it for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Remember to give your hummers fresh water

Hummingbirds also need fresh, clean water at all times. They drink fresh water to help keep their bodies hydrated, just like we do. Offering fresh water in addition to sugar syrup will help keep your hummingbirds healthy and happy.

So, what kind of sugar should you use to make hummingbird food?

That depends slightly on your preferences and what is available to you. However, it is generally recommended that you use white granulated sugar, because it is easy to find, is free of toxins, and dissolves quickly. Whatever sugar you choose, make sure to always use fresh, clean water and to clean your feeders regularly.

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.


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