You don’t feed hummers??
It’s hard to believe, but I’ve heard that some people don’t feed hummingbirds because they think it’s bothersome to mix up the nectar and care for the feeders. I can promise you that it’s really quick and easy and gives you great return on your investment. Use table sugar (sucrose), as it is chemically very similar to flower nectar and the most abundant sugar in the nectars of hummingbird flowers. And as a win/win, it’s much more economical than buying prepared mixes.
Years ago I tested two commercial nectars against plain old table sugar and water. My testing was conducted like this: I hung two Little Flyer (LF-4) feeders side by side, one with a commercial mix and one with sugar water. Besides observing the feeders, it was easy enough to determine which one they preferred because of the nectar level. After a week, I switched the position of the feeders. I happened to be watching when a hummer landed on the feeder that had been sugar water but was now the commercial mix. She took one sip and backed off and went to the other feeder containing the sugar water. I only tested two mixes, but those observations in addition to the advice of hummingbird expert Sheri Williamson* convinced me that the best I can do for my hummers is also the best solution for my pocketbook.
To make the nectar: Boil a quart of water and add 1 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. If you’re lucky enough to have loads of hummers, then you’ll need to increase your batch. When your mixture has cooled, fill your feeders and put the leftover into the fridge. It will keep up to two weeks. You can also make it without boiling the water, and when in a time crunch, that’s what I do.
Just remember to give your feeders a good cleaning every time you fill them. Dump them out and wash them if the nectar has been there for 5 days. Tiny bits of mold will grow in the sugar water in the heat and we don’t want to give our hummers stomach aches. Using the Perfect Little Brush (PLB)included with each of our feeders to clean the ports lets you do a great job quickly. Then sit back and enjoy the magic!
*Sheri L. Williamson is the author of Attracting and Feeding Hummingbirds and A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America