Can I Feed Humming Birds Sugar Water? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Hummingbirds are small but fascinating birds that are magical and powerful. They have distinctive characteristics such as long, distinctive beaks, colorful plumage, and humming sounds. 

But have you ever thought about what these birds eat?

Their primary source of nutrition is nectar from various flowers. Hummingbirds have a long, needle-like beak that they use to reach for nectar in flowers. 

They feed on insects such as beetles, aphids, and mosquitoes.

According to research, hummingbirds can consume half their body weight in insects and nectar every ten to fifteen minutes. 

But what about sugar water? Can hummingbirds be feed sugar water? Let’s find out.

Can I Feed Humming Bird Sugar Water

Can I Feed Humming Birds Sugar Water

Yes, you certainly can. Sugar water is great for hummingbirds, and these birds adore it. Interestingly, nectar which is their primary source of food is essentially a sugar solution. It’s made up of one sucrose glucose and fructose. 

Sugar water keeps these adorable creatures vibrant and nourished.

However, regardless of your good intentions to feed these birds, you must ensure that the sugar water in their feeders is consistently replaced. 

Mold can grow in the feeder if sugar water is left out for days. And this can be harmful to their health. 

This article goes into great detail about how to feed sugar water to hummingbirds, so keep reading.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on how do hummingbirds sleep?

What Is Sugar Water?

Sugar water is self-explanatory. It simply means sugar-sweetened water. You have the option of having this cold.

Some people, on the other hand, prefer it boiled. Boiling sugar and water transforms it into a syrup-like substance. 

This syrup is also used in the preparation of homemade cocktails, beverages, and other drinks.

Most sports drinks are high in glucose sources. And this helps you to feel more energized. 

However, drinking only sugar and water serves the purpose of replenishing your body even better. 

Sugar is a carbohydrate that is sweet and soluble. Sugar canes and sugar beets are the primary sources of common sugar. 

Sugar is produced in approximately 120 countries, according to statistics. Europe and Russia primarily extract from sugar beets.

But, the United States, China, and African countries derive their income from sugar cane 

Four types of sugar commonly used are: 

Glucose: The most common type of sugar found in the blood is glucose. It is the primary source of energy for the cells in the body.

Glucose is derived from the foods we consume. It can also be produced by the body from other substances. 

The bloodstream transports glucose to the cells. Several hormones, including insulin, regulate blood glucose levels. 

Fructose: Fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is a simple sugar found in fruits, honey, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is very sweet.

It is about 1.5 times sweeter than sucrose. 

Fruits like grapes, peas, watermelon, apples, zucchini, and asparagus are high in fructose.

However, fruits like banana, carrot, avocado, strawberries, and blueberries contain low fructose.

Sucrose: Sucrose is a naturally occurring sugar that can be found in varying amounts in plants such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Sucrose is also commercially produced from sugar cane and sugar beets. 

These are the best sugars to feed to hummingbirds. Sucrose is made up of one fructose molecule and one glucose molecule. The scientific name for table sugar is sucrose. 

Lactose: Lactose is a sugar found in milk. It contains galactose and glucose. Lactase is an enzyme that our bodies use to break down lactose so that it can be absorbed.

Lactose is found in other food such as cereals, rice, bread, and other baked food.

Do Humming Birds Like Sugar Water?

Aside from children, who else enjoys the sweet taste of sugar? You guessed correctly! Hummingbirds. These birds are completely addicted to sugar. 

Hummingbirds are naturally sugar addicts, which contributes to their popularity in drinking nectar from flowers. 

Nectar is a sugar-rich, viciously sweet liquid produced by plants. They are produced by nectarines, which are parts of a plant gland.

They can be found in a variety of plant parts, including flowers, stems, and leaves. 

Beebalms, fuchsia, daylilies, petunia, trumpet vine, and honeysuckle are some of the nectar-producing flowers that hummingbirds prefer. 

Historically, these were the primary source of sugar for hummingbirds. Until humans began making sugar water and filling feeders with it to attract them.

They have perfected the recipes over time. 

It is important to note, however, that not all types of sugar are beneficial to these birds. Raw, turbinado, organic, and brown sugar, for example, are toxic to hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds are also allergic to confectioners’ sugar. This sugar contains an anti-caking agent that is harmful to them. 

You should only use granulated white sugar to make hummingbird nectar. Cane sugar and beet sugar are also beneficial to these birds. 

Also check out this article I wrote on how do hummingbirds mate?

What Are The Benefits Of Sugar Water?

Sugar water provides numerous advantages to hummingbirds. Sugar water gives their bodies a quick energy boost. It gives them energy and nourishment. 

These birds lead an extremely active lifestyle. They are capable of enviable acrobatics, which is why they require energy. 

According to research, the heart of a hummingbird beats more than 1,200 times per minute.

Furthermore, they have wings that beat at a rate of more than 60 times per second to maintain hovering flight. 

As a result, hummingbirds require sugar to maintain their high metabolic rate.

Sugar water and nectar, which they consume regularly, provide them with the calories they require for energy. 

Sucrose is a naturally occurring sugar that is easily digested by hummingbirds. They digest sucrose with 100% efficiency.

Furthermore, easy digestion and energy allow a hummingbird to chase after other food sources.

Can You Feed Humming Birds Plain Water? 

According to a well-known saying, “a thousand have lived without love, but not one without water.” 

Water’s significance cannot be overstated. Water is a basic requirement for all life. Yes, even for hummingbirds. 

Drinking water has a surprising number of advantages for these birds. Water is required for the regulation of their body temperature, to name a few of these advantages. 

Water is also required for their growth and reproduction. Water also aids digestion, excretion, and metabolism. 

Water is an excellent model of transportation in the body. It facilitates the transport of nutrients and waste.

Can You Feed Hummingbirds Honey Water?

According to research, feeding hummingbirds, honey water is not recommended. Honey is a sweet, syrupy golden substance produced by honeybees. 

Honey has a plethora of health benefits for humans. They are, however, toxic to hummingbirds.

Honey can quickly ferment, resulting in the development of a lethal bacterium that is toxic to birds. 

If you must feed your birds something sugary, make sure it is only refined cane sugar and water.

Honey and other types of sweeteners should be avoided.

How Often Should You Change Hummingbird Sugar Water?

We don’t want to endanger these unique creatures, so it is important to change this sugar water regularly.

Feeders should be changed and thoroughly cleaned every other day. This is according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

In hot weather, however, they should be cleaned and refilled at least twice a week. But, in cooler weather, once a week is ideal.

Regular cleaning helps to prevent mold growth on feeders. 

How To Make Sugar Water For Humming Birds? 

Aside from the fact that homemade is always better, it’s also less expensive and a fun activity. It is also safe for hummingbirds. 

Here’s an easy way to make sugar water for hummingbirds. 

First, you’ll need a bowl. In the bowl, add one part sugar to four parts water, and then stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Afterward, you can transfer the mix into a hummingbird feeder.

However, you can also choose to boil the water. This method is very much safe as well.

However, the water should not be left to boil for too long. The water should be left to boil for a maximum of 60 seconds. Then, combine one part sugar and four parts boiled water. 

Thereafter, stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

When they are cool enough, fill your bird feeder with it and allow them to enjoy a tasty treat. 

Feel free to keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. However, do not keep sugar water for more than two weeks. 

If you notice mold growing on your sugar water that has been stored in the fridge, discard it and make a new batch for your hummingbird feeder. 

Most people enjoy adding red dye to their sugar water mixture. While humans are unaffected by this, hummingbirds are not.

Red dye could be harmful to birds. So, it’s best to leave them out.

What Can You Feed Hummingbirds Besides Sugar Water?

As stated earlier, humming birds eat other things like insects, little spiders, plain water, watermelon, peanut butter and lots of other meals.


Hummingbirds cherish the sweet taste of naturally occurring sugar such as sucrose.

Sucrose is commonly found in plants and is contained in their primary source of food as well.

Hence, sugar water is safe and offers lots of benefits to these birds. 

Sugar fuels their over-energized lifestyle. However, not all type of sugar is good for hummingbirds. 

Raw, turbinado, organic, confectioner, and brown sugar have been discovered to be harmful to them.

Photo of author

About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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