Humming birds love sweet water. It is almost similar to the nectar they suck from flowers, fruits and tree sap. However, getting the nectar is sometimes difficult for them because predators such as large birds, snakes and other reptiles lie in wait to grab and eat them.
If you have hummingbirds in your backyard then why not install bird feeders and fill them with sweet water. This will be a great food source for the birds when they are unable to find flowers in bloom and ripe fruits, or insects.
You have probably read that it is important to boil water when making homemade nectar for hummingbirds. You don’t really need to do this. The bacteria that usually develop in sweet water and induce fermentation are not a result of unboiled water but hummingbird bills, which refer to their beak. Installing hummingbird feeders in your backyard is an inexpensive and easy job. You can even make the feeders at home by watching YouTube videos.
You can make sweet water in just two steps. The only thing you need to make sure when filling the feeders is keeping a fresh supply on hand to change the sweet water daily. Let’s take a look at how to make the nectar without boiling:
How to Make Sweet Water for Hummingbirds Without Boiling
Hummingbirds love all things sweet from flower nectar to ripe fruit and homemade sweet water. When making the nectar for hummingbirds, you need to be very careful with the ratio of sugar to water. Adding less sugar will make the hummingbirds leave your backyard in search of sweeter pastures and too much sugar will make them sick.
There are plenty of food sources around hummingbirds to feed them, which is why you don’t need to overly concern yourself with their welfare. However, if you are putting up bird feeders with sweet water you need to take extra precaution to ensure ants are not invading the food source. Install an ant moat and an ant guard to keep the insects at bay. Also, stop any leakages that might lead the ants to the feeders.
Let’s take a look at how to make the sweet water without boiling:
Sugar Water Recipe
- Refined White Sugar
- Set aside 1 part sugar and 4 parts water
- Pour water in a bowl and slowly add sugar. Keep stirring so that there are no crystals resting at the bottom
You might be tempted to give the hummingbirds a treat by using molasses, corn syrup, unprocessed sugar or honey instead of refined white sugar but we don’t advise doing this. Such ingredients can harm the metabolism of hummingbirds and cause difficulties for them when migrating.
Hummingbirds flock to the feeders after having their meal on the ground. The nectar helps wash down their last meal of insects. Sometimes, these birds also eat grit or fine gravel to digest their solid food. So, do add a small feeder full of grit in ash form beside the sweet water feeders.
Everything You Need to Know About Sweet Water for Humming Birds
You now know how to make sweet water for hummingbirds but you are probably wondering why go through all the hassle and simply give the birds fruit juice instead, right. Well, bottled juice contains fructose, which is sweeter than glucose and sucrose. It also contains acidic ingredients and combined with the excess sugar, it can harm the liver and kidneys of the hummingbirds.
As for freshly squeezed juice, pouring it in the feeders is a great idea. Hummingbirds will slurp this natural nectar greedily in a matter of minutes. However, the sharp scent of this juice might attract ants and bees, which will make it difficult for the hummingbirds to drink the nectar in peace.
You don’t need to go to extremely lengths to feed the hummingbirds. Any nutrients they don’t get from the sweet water, they will get through insects such as wasps, leafhoppers, small spiders, etc.
Is It Important to Boil Water When Making Sweet Water?
There’s no need to boil water when making sweet water for hummingbirds. The reason why we recommend it though is because it helps sugar dissolve faster. You can use hot tap water as well to make the sweet water or add sugar into the water bowl and leave it out for a while to let room temperature do the work.
Does Boiling Water Remove Impurities?
If you feel that your tap water is not drinkable then go ahead and boil it. This will kill any mold spores and bacteria in it. It will also make the sweet water last longer. If you aren’t drinking your tap water then why give it to your hummers. With that said, if your water has high iron content then we suggest using spring or filtered water.
Why Is It Important to Keep the 4:1 Ratio?
As the recipe says above, sweet water for humming birds contains 1 part sugar and 4 parts water. This is because the sweeter the water, the more hummingbirds it will attract. It might fatten them up to survive during migration in late summer. However, do not change the ratio because don’t want the water to be overly sweet. Hummingbirds eat insects to supplement their diet. Extra sugar can lead to calcium deficiencies, dehydration, bone malformation and muscular weakness.
How Often Should I Change the Sweet Water?
Usually, you should clean the feeder and change the sweet water every day. However, if this is not feasible then you have a time limit of 6 days. How frequently the water should be changed depends on the temperature outside. Here’s a chart to help you understand this:
Can I Add Food Coloring to the Sweet Water?
Many people have mixed reviews about this. Though red color attracts hummingbirds, people are reluctant to use it. According to experts at the FDA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, food coloring does not harm hummingbirds. A few commercials have shown that the red color builds up in the liver and kidney of hummingbirds, killing them. However, this is not true. Unless the food coloring has preservatives, you don’t need to worry about anything.
In conclusion, you can easily make homemade nectar for hummingbirds without boiling the water. Bacteria that transfer to this water are through the beaks of the hummingbirds. This means you can use tap water as well.
To make sure that the birds are not drinking mold sweet water, keep cleaning the feeders. You can store excess sweet water for up to 2 weeks. If you see the water changing color, throw it away immediately and make a new batch.