How to make hummingbird food: Simple recipe helps attract hummingbirds to your yard
Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this story included an incorrect ratio for water to sugar in hummingbird food.
There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds in the world. While these small and beautiful birds are restricted to North and South America, they can be found in a wide range of environments from the tropics to deserts below sea level, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Although they tend to stick to tropical environments, 17 species are known in the United States, especially near the Mexican border, though most areas of the country have one or two species.
According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, the birds, known for their colorful feathers and long beaks, typically feed on flowers. Hummingbirds, however, have also been known to feed on small insects or sap wells created by woodpeckers.
These small birds can also be fed right from your backyard with a recipe that requires two simple ingredients.
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How to make hummingbird food
Making hummingbird food only requires two simple ingredients which you likely already have in your kitchen.
Granulated sugar or table sugar
According to the Smithsonian, when making this nectar you should use four parts water to one part sugar, meaning four cups of water to one cup of sugar.
Mix the sugar and water mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved and then transfer the liquid to a hummingbird feeder.
Video: See the nectar made by experts at the Smithsonian National Zoo
Tap water is safe to use and does not need to be boiled to create the nectar, according to the Smithsonian.
Unprocessed sugars, raw sugars, honey and corn syrup, however, can be harmful to hummingbirds and should not be used as a substitute for granulated sugar when making hummingbird food. Confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar) should also not be used as it can contain cornstarch, according to the Smithsonian.
Some people like to add red dye to the nectar because the color can attract hummingbirds to the feeder. The Smithsonian, however, says, "Do not add red dye," and goes on to explain, "Red dye or coloring isn’t necessary to attract hummingbirds and could be harmful to the birds." Plus, most hummingbird feeders are already red so it could be unnecessary to dye the nectar.
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How long does hummingbird food last?
According to the Smithsonian, hummingbird feeders should be changed every other day and cleaned to ensure no harmful mold growth takes place. Extra hummingbird food can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, according to BlessThisMess.com.
Where and when should I put hummingbird feeders in my yard?
As hummingbirds migrate, your location dictates when you should place hummingbird food in your yard.
According to Bless This Mess, if you live in the southern part of the U.S., February through November is an optimal time to place the feeders in your yard. In the northern part of the country, feeders can be placed from early May to September while in the middle of the country, April through October.
To attract birds, place feeders in quiet areas of your yard around tree branches. The birds like to perch on branches, says Bless This Mess.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Easy hummingbird food recipe: Simple way to attract them to your yard