Attracting hummingbirds to your garden can create quite a magical atmosphere around your home, however to do so you must have the proper nectar to put in your hummingbird feeder. The food that is generally put into hummingbird feeders is not actually a replacement of the actual nectar that they get from flowers; it is merely a supplement to give them an extra boost along their way. There are artificial nectar mixes that can be purchased that have additives like various vitamins and protein, however these mixes are unnecessary since hummingbirds are capable of rounding up these resources themselves. The sugar water that is used in feeders is perfectly acceptable for hummingbirds, and with the proper mix has no potential health defects for hummingbirds due to their unique metabolism. Below is an excellent recipe for creating artificial nectar for feeding the hummingbirds in your area.
Combine four parts water with one part normal store-bought white cane sugar.
There is no need to boil the water (as many recipes will advise you to do) since the danger of fermentation does not come from the feeder or the water, but from the bills of hummingbirds.
This mixture is an approximate recipe that is similar to the average nectar (sucrose) preferred by many hummingbirds in North America. It is balanced in such a way that it will not be so sweet as to attract insects.
The sugars contained in natural plant nectars that hummingbirds feed on are likely one of the following: sucrose, glucose, and/or fructose. According to experts there is no difference in which type of sweetener you use. Though, sucrose being the most common component in many plant nectars that hummingbirds pollinate, it is the one they seem to prefer.
Some people cite the possibility that hummingbirds have a preference between cane sugar and beet sugars. It is claimed that hummingbirds prefer cane over beet sugar. If you have made your mixture and you still can’t seem to attract any hummingbirds, try changing your sugar, being sure that the packages clearly indicates it is pure cane sugar.
Since raw sugar is unavailable to Americans, pure cane sugar is the best way to go. Turbinado sugar is the closest we get to raw, but this can be detrimental to the health of hummingbirds because it is higher in iron content, and since the average hummingbird diet is quite low in iron, their bodies hoard the small iron content they do get, thus if you should introduce a sudden amount of iron into the hummingbird diet, you may wind up inadvertently poisoning them.
Other products you should make sure to refrain from adding to your hummingbird feeder: are honey, Jell-O, brown sugar, fruit, and red food coloring. The use of honey can actually kill hummingbirds, since it ferments quickly. The use of red food coloring is not necessary, and though it is unclear and as yet unproven, it is not worth the possible harm it may cause to hummingbirds.