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Though hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world, they have lots of heart—and a heart that beats up to 1,260 times a minute! They are the only birds that can fly backwards. They can hover in mid-air, fly sideways and travel upside-down! Their athleticism really helps the 150 flower species that depend primarily—or exclusively—on them for pollination.
It takes a lot to fuel these micro-acrobats. A hummingbird’s metabolism is roughly 100 times that of an elephant! They need to eat about seven times an hour for 30-60 seconds each time. That might not sound like a lot, but these meals can add up to eight times its body weight every day! Help them find the sustenance they need with our DIY hummingbird nectar recipe.
DIY hummingbird nectar recipe
- Mix 4 parts water to 1 part organic cane sugar in a pan (ex: 4 cups water/1 cup sugar).
- Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
- Cover and allow to cool before using in a feeder or pouring into a storage bottle.
Use only white cane sugar!
Flower nectar is made up primarily of sucrose, which is structurally similar to white sugar. Using artificial sweeteners can be very harmful to our flying friends. As a human diet aid, these sweeteners offer no calories. That means they’re also calorie-free for the hummingbirds who need calories for energy. Even honey can be harmful since it has a different composition, and hummingbirds can’t digest it properly. From a strictly culinary standpoint, some evidence suggests hummingbirds have a strong preference for cane sugar. If you’re going to go through the trouble of preparing a meal for them, you might as well prepare their favorite food! If the sugar doesn’t specifically say it is cane sugar, it is likely beet sugar, so be sure to check first.
Hold the food coloring!
Resist the urge to color the sugared water. A hummingbird’s favorite color is red, but a red feeder is enough to attract them. You can also use a red ribbon or other marking on the feeder if needed. Artificial coloring is harmful to the birds, especially since they would consume such concentrated quantities. Feel free to give chemicals the bird; but don’t ever give chemicals to them!
A little birdy told me…
Be prepared when the word gets out. Hummingbirds are very smart. They can remember every flower (or feeder) they have ever visited, and how long it will take a flower to refill. If you start feeding them, the bird community will soon be humming with the news! But don’t worry; unlike most wildlife, hummingbirds won’t become reliant on a feeder. They enjoy a variety! A hummingbird typically visits about 1,000 flowers each day, but if you follow these tips, your feeder could become one of their favorite stopping spots!
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