Hummingbird feeders require liquid nectar. This nectar uses a specific formula that imitates natural nectar from flowers to provide wholesome nutrition for hummingbirds. Some birders prefer to mix up their own nectar at home, while others rely on a store-bought supply.
So, which hummingbird nectar is better for the birds? Should you make it, or should you buy it? There are pros and cons to each method, so take a look and find your preference! Whether you prefer to make your own nectar at home or purchase it in store, there are a few important tips to follow to make sure you’re providing high-quality nutrition for the birds.
See also: 6 Gift Ideas for Hummingbird Enthusiasts
Why Some Birders Steer Clear of Store-Bought Nectar
In the birdwatching community, there’s a certain skepticism that comes with store-bought hummingbird nectar – primarily over concerns about artificial dyes.
It’s well known that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, which is why many hummingbird products feature this flashy color: feeders have red flower ports, red basin lids, and red perches. Well, some companies started including artificial dyes to give pre-made hummingbird nectar a bright red color and boost the birds’ attraction to it. Artificial dyes are controversial, because there is some evidence to suggest that they have harmful effects on the health of the birds.
For this reason, many birders have adopted the idea that homemade hummingbird mix is the only way to go to avoid harmful dyes. After all, you can skip the questionable ingredients and create a classic mix from sugar and water alone.
See also: 6 Ways to Help Hummingbirds Stay Healthy
Homemade Nectar Pros and Cons
While there are advantages to making hummingbird nectar at home, including the ability to select and control the exact ingredients that are in your blend, there are also some downsides.
For example, making nectar at home definitely requires time, patience, supplies, and a steady hand to get the right ratio. Plus, making homemade hummingbird nectar can create a mess if you’re not careful. Homemade nectar also lacks some of the healthy vitamins that are often added to store-bought blends.
With that said, many people enjoy making homemade hummingbird nectar. For those who enjoy making hummingbird mix at home, be sure to use precise measurements and a clean work surface so the nectar does not become contaminated. It can also be helpful to use filtered water to eliminate some of the undesirable components of tap water.
Safe Solutions for Store-Bought Nectar
Let’s be honest: store-bought nectar can save a ton of time and hassle for busy birders. Buying pre-made nectar can also be a convenient option for having a steady supply of hummingbird food on-hand. Nectar solutions can come in ready-to-use bottles, liquid concentrates, and powder formulas, so you can pick the product that works best for your feeder setup. Store-bought formulas are simply more convenient.
If you prefer to buy hummingbird nectar, here’s some good news: there are pre-made mixes that offer all-natural ingredients without harmful additives, like artificial dyes. If you select a commercial nectar that is colored, be sure to confirm that the dyes used are recognized as safe for birds. Not all commercial mixes are the same, so do your homework to make sure you’re buying a quality product that is safe and healthy for hummingbirds.
In addition to being non-harmful and all-natural, some commercial nectars even contain vitamins that are found in natural flower nectar but unachievable in homemade formulas. These added vitamins can be very beneficial for birds and can even help them produce stronger egg shells. This is another benefit that comes from quality store-bought hummingbird blends.
Should I Buy It or Make It?
All in all, the choice to use homemade nectar or store-bought supplies really comes down the preference, convenience, and capabilities of backyard birders. Either approach can be beneficial so long as you make an effort to get the details right. The most important part? Keep those feeders filled with nectar that delivers high-quality nutrition.