Skip to main content

This easy homemade hummingbird food attracts all the rufous hummingbirds you can handle

Use these tips to draw rufous hummingbirds to your yard

If you’re a fan of birds, you’ve probably heard of rufous hummingbirds. These little birds are incredibly beautiful, with copper feathers that sometimes appear to glow in sunlight. It’s no wonder so many people put out hummingbird food and plant flowers just to attract them. If you’d like to see these stunning birds in your garden, here’s what you need to know.




45 minutes

What You Need

  • Refined white sugar

  • Water

  • Stirring utensil

  • Boiling pot (optional)

  • Hummingbird feeder

Male rufous hummingbird sitting on pink thorny vines

Where can you expect to see rufous hummingbirds?

Unfortunately, rufous hummingbirds aren’t found everywhere. If you live on the East Coast, you’ll have better luck attracting ruby-throated hummingbirds. However, rufous hummingbirds are migratory, and they cover a fairly wide range.

During winter, they live in Mexico and along the Gulf Coast. In early spring, they migrate to their breeding grounds in the Northwest, including parts of Washington state, Canada, and even southern Alaska. During their migration, they pass through the central and western parts of the U.S.

They don’t travel in groups, which makes it difficult to predict if you’ll see them or not. The good news is that they are creatures of habit. If you’ve seen them in your garden before, they’re likely to return, especially if you keep putting out food!

Female rufous hummingbird visiting a pink flower

Flowers rufous hummingbirds love

Like most hummingbirds, rufous hummingbirds eat nectar from flowers as well as insects (so you may want to stop using pesticides during their migration). Tube-shaped flowers are the best for attracting hummingbirds, as their beaks are specially developed to feed from them.

Rufous hummingbirds in particular love brightly colored flowers and seem to favor red ones.

Here are a few of the best flowers to plant if you want to attract rufous hummingbirds:

  • Scarlet sage
  • Paintbrush
  • Gilia
  • Penstemon
  • Currants
  • Larkspur
Female rufous hummingbird drinking from a copper hummingbird feeder

How to make homemade hummingbird food

Don’t worry if you don’t have room to plant flowers, or if it’s too late in the year for you to start planting. Rufous hummingbirds will eat from hummingbird feeders as well as flowers. Making homemade hummingbird food is quick and easy. You can start now and be ready to feed hungry rufous hummingbirds within the hour!

Here are the simple steps to make food for hummingbirds:

Step 1: Mix 1 part refined white sugar with 4 parts water.

Refined white sugar is the same as regular table sugar. Avoid using other kinds of sugars, as some have added ingredients that aren’t safe for birds.

Step 2: Stir the sugar until it fully dissolves.

To help it dissolve faster, you can heat the sugar and water solution in a pot for 1 to 2 minutes and then let it fully cool down.

Step 3: Fill your hummingbird feeder.

Step 4: Store excess sugar water in the refrigerator.

Step 5: Avoid using dye or colors in the hummingbird feeder.

Extra color can make it easier to see when the feeder is low, but artificial dyes aren’t good for birds.

Step 6: Refill the feeder when it is empty.

Step 7: Empty and clean the feeder twice a week, refilling it with new sugar water afterward.

This prevents mold from growing in the feeder.

Rufous hummingbirds are beautiful, and they’ve got a long way to travel during their migration! Growing flowers or setting out a feeder for them to rest at is an excellent way to help them; plus you get to see their lovely feathers.

Editors' Recommendations

Create a cardinal bird sanctuary in your garden: Grow these plants
Use these trees and flowers to attract cardinals
A male cardinal in a bush with red berries

Cardinal birds are charming and beautiful, so it’s no wonder they’re popular. Native to a large portion of the eastern U.S., these birds are commonly seen in many gardens. If you want to attract more of these feathered friends to your garden, or provide some additional food for the ones already living there, then you’re in luck! We’ve got six easy-to-grow plants for any garden space, and even a few tips for those without any space at all.

Read more
The truth about holly leaves – interesting facts you might not know
Fun facts about holly leaves to share with others
Groups of holly berries

Holly plants are popular winter plants, with their glossy, dark green leaves and bright red berries standing out against the whites and browns of snow and dormant plants. They’re native to North America and are a great winter food source for birds. Holly is easy to care for, but there are some things you may be surprised to know about this classic plant. Here are three facts about holly leaves you might not know.

Holly leaves tend to have more spikes lower to the ground
When they first grow, holly leaves are pretty uniform across the plant. However, once a few leaves are eaten (most commonly by deer), a neat genetic quirk of the holly plant reveals itself. The leaves that grow back to replace the eaten ones, as well as the surrounding leaves, grow more spikes. This helps protect the holly plant from being overeaten, but you can use this info to protect yourself as well!

Read more
Add these plants to your garden to provide winter food for your local birds
Feed your local birds with these plants
A small songbird eating a red berry in the snow

Plenty of birds fly south for the winter, but not all of them do! If you enjoy hanging up bird feeders to help your feathered friends, but find it unpleasant to trudge out into the snow to refill them, then you should consider growing natural food sources for wildlife! In this handy guide, we’ll cover why this is a good idea, what kinds of plants you should look for, and even list a few of our top recommendations for garden plants for birds in the winter.

Read more