This is not a drill. The hummingbirds are back! As I returned home yesterday and approached my porch, there he was, a male ruby-throated hummingbird at my feeder. While I love watching the songbirds, hummingbirds are definitely my favorite.

You may have seen red colored hummingbird juice, or nectar for sale at various retail locations. Using any colored juice is not recommended as it may be harmful to the birds. Commercial juice can contain a red colored dye that may be derived from petroleum.

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states that: "There is no research that proves red dye is safe for hummingbirds, and very compelling anecdotal information from experienced, licensed rehabbers that hummers who have been fed dyed food have higher mortality and suffer tumors of the bill and liver."

Photo by Erin Testone on Unsplash
Photo by Erin Testone on Unsplash

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, but the juice does not have to be that color. Most hummingbird feeders have red parts on them to attract the birds. My hummers sometimes hover at my songbird feeder which is red and white until they realize their feeders are just beyond it.

Making hummingbird juice at home is quick, easy, and much more cost effective that purchasing it pre-made. It's also safer for the birds.

This is my tried and true recipe for hummingbird juice:


  • 1 part white granulated sugar
  • 4 parts water


  1. In a saucepan, heat the water until it comes to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the sugar to the saucepan.
  3. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. This usually takes a minute or two.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. Once the mixture has cooled, pour it into a clean hummingbird feeder.

Remember to clean your hummingbird feeder regularly and replace the nectar every few days, especially in hot weather, to prevent fermentation and the growth of mold, which can be harmful to hummingbirds. Also, avoid using honey or artificial sweeteners, as they can be harmful to hummingbirds.

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