Sweet Fuel: The Hummingbird's Diet

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that are known for their remarkable speed and agility in flight. These tiny birds are also renowned for their unique feeding habits, as they require a specific type of diet to maintain their high-energy lifestyle. In this article, we will explore hummingbird food, including what they eat, how to attract them to your garden, and how to make your own hummingbird food.

What Do Hummingbirds Eat?

Hummingbirds are nectar feeders, which means that they primarily feed on the nectar produced by flowers. The nectar provides the hummingbirds with the energy they need to fly, hover, and feed throughout the day. In addition to nectar, hummingbirds also consume insects and spiders, which provide them with protein and other essential nutrients.

While hummingbirds are primarily nectar feeders, not all nectar is created equal. The nectar produced by different flowers can vary in sugar content and nutrient value, and hummingbirds are selective about the type of nectar they consume. Hummingbirds prefer nectar that is high in sucrose, a type of sugar that provides them with the most energy. Nectar that is high in glucose or fructose is not as desirable to hummingbirds.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

If you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden, you need to create an environment that is conducive to their needs. This means providing a variety of flowering plants that produce nectar that is high in sucrose. Some of the best plants for attracting hummingbirds include:

  • Salvia
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Bee Balm
  • Columbine
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Red Buckeye

It is also important to provide a source of water for hummingbirds. Hummingbirds need to bathe frequently to keep their feathers clean and to help regulate their body temperature. You can provide water for hummingbirds by setting up a bird bath or a shallow dish filled with water.

Finally, it is important to avoid the use of pesticides and other chemicals in your garden. These chemicals can be harmful to hummingbirds and can destroy the nectar-producing flowers that they rely on for food.

How to Make Your Own Hummingbird Food

If you want to provide hummingbirds with a supplemental source of food, you can make your own hummingbird food at home. Here is a simple recipe for making hummingbird food:

  • Mix 1 part white granulated sugar with 4 parts water.
  • Heat the mixture on the stove until the sugar dissolves.
  • Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • Fill a clean hummingbird feeder with the mixture and hang it in your garden.

It is important to note that you should never use honey or artificial sweeteners to make hummingbird food. Honey can cause fungal infections in hummingbirds, while artificial sweeteners do not provide the same energy value as sucrose.

Maintaining Your Hummingbird Feeder

If you decide to provide hummingbirds with a feeder, it is important to maintain it properly to ensure the health and safety of the birds. Here are some tips for maintaining your hummingbird feeder:

  • Clean the feeder regularly using hot water and soap.
  • Rinse the feeder thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  • Refill the feeder with fresh nectar every 3-4 days, or more frequently in hot weather.
  • In hot weather, it is important to change the nectar more frequently to prevent fermentation, which can be harmful to hummingbirds.
  • If you notice mold or other signs of spoilage in the nectar, discard it immediately and clean the feeder thoroughly.


Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that require a specific type of diet to maintain their high-energy lifestyle. By providing hummingbirds with a variety of nectar-producing flowers and a source of clean


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