Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by Cristina
Hummingbirds might be the most popular, but they’re not the only birds that drink nectar. So, if you need an added reason to plant more nectar-rich flowers, this is the one.
You can attract finches, woodpeckers, warblers, bananaquits, and more, depending on where you live! Read along to understand the birds that drink nectar and find out how they coexist with hummingbirds.
Nectar As A Food Source
Nectar is a mix of sugars and water, a liquid rich in carbohydrates that give instant bursts of energy. The effect a human experiences after consuming sugar-rich food happens to the birds. However, after the outbreak of energy comes a crash. Hummingbirds don’t have time for a crash as they constantly drink nectar.
But the hummingbird’s diet is not the only one that includes nectar. Due to evolution and lack of food sources, some birds have adapted to consuming nectar. Tree sap, a liquid a little more nutritiously rich than nectar, is another food source that hummingbirds share with other birds.
Types Of Nectar
Nectar can be natural or artificial. Natural comes from flowers, while the artificial is purchased or mixed at home.
Flower nectar is made mainly from water and up to 80% sugar. It also contains trace amounts of minerals, essential oils, salt, acids, and protein.
Handmade nectar includes white sugar and water in a 1:4 ratio. Purchased sugar can include some additives, coloring, and preservatives. You should never make homemade nectar with other sweeteners like agave syrup, honey, molasses, or brown sugar.
Do birds that drink nectar prefer natural or artificial? Is nectar better than sugar water for hummingbirds? In reality, there’s no definite answer. If there’s enough natural nectar, the birds won’t hog the feeder. However, in seasons when there aren’t many blooms, manmade nectar is lifesaving.
All The Birds That Drink Nectar
There are many birds in North America, but only a tiny portion resort to nectar to survive. So, besides hummingbirds, here are the other birds that drink nectar:
How Birds Drink Nectar
The flower nectar is located at the base of the flower, while feeders have tiny openings mimicking the natural nectar source. So how do birds that drink nectar extract it? Hummingbirds have it easy; their long beak hides a furry tongue that slurps the nectar and takes it to their mouth. However, some of the examples on our list have short beaks.
Birds with short but sharp beaks pierce the base of the flower, so the nectar can flow, and they can feed. Birds with dull short beaks munch on the leaves until they reach the center and bite the nectar source. That’s why you might think that some birds eat flower petals.
Why Some Birds Don’t Drink Nectar
What does nectar do for hummingbirds and all these other birds? It’s a quick and abundant source of energy! But not all birds can enjoy this food source.
Most birds don’t have what it needs to feed on nectar. Since nectar is predominantly sugar, it requires a particular enzyme called sucrase to dissolve in the organism and be used for energy. Unfortunately, some birds don’t have the needed enzymes and can’t consume nectar.
Birds that drink nectar have a higher survival rate. They’re more adaptable and persist in regions with no other food source.
Flowers That Produce The Most Nectar
Borage Or Starflower
This plant has the sweetest nectar that quickly satiates the birds. The medicinal plant comes with small periwinkle blue flowers and is a wild plant. It’s compatible with most plants in your garden; it’s not invasive and can help you fight pests!
The colorful yet simple flowers are decorative and ideal for all the birds that drink nectar. In addition, the flower shape makes the nectar easily accessible.
The coneflower is accessible even for the birds with dull short beaks. This open flower comes in various colors, is easy to grow, and blooms for a few months at a time!
Consider planting one of the most common wildflowers in your garden. They’re rich in nectar, almost impossible to kill, and decorative. As a bonus, you make use of its medicinal properties.
How Much Nectar Do Birds Need
There’s no formula to calculate how much nectar a bird drinks in a day. However, having both hummingbirds and other birds that drink nectar visit your garden means you need to increase the nectar supply. Sometimes, flowers are not enough.
If you’re wondering how do I make my own hummingbird nectar, the recipe is simple. Use white sugar and water in a ratio of 1:4, 1 cup sugar, 4 cups water. Mix well to combine and pour into the feeder. You don’t need to boil the water, but make sure to stir until the sugar dissolves.
Is it OK to feed hummingbirds sugar water instead of natural nectar? Not all flowers bloom year-round, but many birds stay in the winter. In the cold months when there’s no nectar and most insects hide, sugar water can save the starving birds.
Bottom Line: Birds That Drink Nectar Besides Hummingbirds
The list of birds that drink nectar in North America doesn’t end at hummingbirds. Many small birds with shorter beaks still manage to find their way to a flower’s nectar. While most of them can’t drink from a conventional hummingbird feeder, they benefit from nectar-rich flowers.
Keep your feeder stocked with nectar for the hummingbirds, but plant more flowers for all the other birds that drink nectar. Finches, orioles, warblers, and mockingbirds are just some of them!
Is nectar better than sugar water for hummingbirds?
Natural nectar is more nutritious as it has essential oils, minerals, salt, and a small percent of protein. However, sugar water is a good substitute as it provides energy.
What does nectar do for hummingbirds?
Nectar is almost 80% sugar which metabolizes fast, converting into energy and keeping the birds satiated and energetic.
How do I make my own hummingbird nectar?
All you need to prepare nectar is water and white sugar. Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water until the sugar dissolves. Always prepare a fresh batch to fill the feeder.
Is it OK to feed hummingbirds sugar water?
Sugar water is perfectly safe when it's made in the recommended ratio. Too diluted won't feed the birds, while too concentrated might harm them.