Does Sugar Water For Hummingbirds Go Bad? – The Truth!

Last Updated on January 11, 2023 by Cristina

Does sugar water for hummingbirds go bad? Check out this article and find out.

It’s no secret that many enthusiasts find great satisfaction in providing nectar to attract hummingbirds to their yards. It can bring a lot of fun and joy to the person taking care of them, and at the same time can be incredibly beneficial to the local hummingbird population.

Most of us have a common opinion that the food in the feeder is always fresh and nutritious for the birds, but does sugar water for hummingbirds go bad? Let’s find out below.

Why Does My Hummingbird Food Get Cloudy?

For all those who would like to observe these beautiful creatures up close, setting up a feeder is the most effective and fool-proof solution. It is true that these creatures consume a lot of nectar from flowers, but since not every garden is equally rich, they will be happy to feast on what you have in the feeder.

Unfortunately, beginners in this hobby often get confused when they notice that the divine liquid has taken on some strange, cloudy appearance. Are you one of them? Lucky for you, you have come to the right place.

Long story short, the primary cause of cloudy water is bacterial overgrowth. There are three main causes of this problem: sugar, water, and hummingbird tongues. To avoid further problems, it is always wisest to boil the water first, regardless of whether you are using tap or bottled water, and only then add sugar. There is no other way to control the situation, because as you can probably guess there is no way to control the bacteria brought in by the birds themselves.


In addition to bacteria, there are also secondary, rarer reasons for the appearance of turbidity, namely mold, which can be recognized very quickly, because the solution usually takes on a dark color due to black mold spores. This problem, like the previous one, can be solved (to some extent) by boiling the water, but most likely you will not be able to change the situation much because the tongues of hummingbirds and insects mainly introduce mold.

Before we give you the correct answer to the question “does sugar water for hummingbirds go bad?”, let’s explain why you can be the main culprit for clouding the sugar solution. You didn’t expect to find yourself on this list? Don’t worry, it’s nothing terrible, even more, so it’s easy to fix. To be more specific, if you put the wrong ratio (much more sugar than recommended), the solution will certainly change its appearance, much faster than would otherwise is the case.

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Does Sugar Water for Hummingbirds Go Bad?

Nectar for feeders is made from two basic kitchen ingredients, sugar, and water. Yes, it’s true that you can buy it ready-made in specialty stores, but why waste money on something you literally already have in your pantry?

So, does sugar water for hummingbirds go bad? The answer to this question is affirmative. Did we surprise you? Well, believe me, most people don’t even think about it, so what often happens is that the nectar spoils to the point where all the pollinators start avoiding your feeder, not just those in your area, but from across the country. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid situations that may lead hummingbirds to associate your backyard feeders with the nasty taste of rotten, fermented nectar!

Pennington 100543828 ElectroNectar Hummingbird Food Ready to Use, Clear

Does Sugar Water For Hummingbirds Go Bad?

So, how long does hummingbird nectar last? Find out below.

How Long Does Sugar Water Last In A Hummingbird Feeder?

In general, there are no hard and fast rules about the right time to change the nectar in your hummingbird feeder. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Unlike all other flying creatures, hummingbirds with their extremely fast metabolisms are very susceptible to disease and accordingly shouldn’t consume spoiled nectar.

So, if you pour freshly prepared nectar into the feeder, even if you have boiled the water and followed all the necessary instructions prescribed by the profession, and if the feeder is exposed to full sun, it will start to ferment in a day. However, that is not even the worst that will happen; remember all those dangerous molds and fungi we mentioned earlier. There is no way you can avoid them starting to form at some point.

Therefore, don’t be lazy to maintain the feeder and change the liquid regularly, because instead of giving your new friend a long, healthy, and happy life, you can make him sick or even kill him. It can cause his tongue to swell and make feeding impossible, causing him to starve, and on the other hand, high levels of alcohol can damage his liver just like a human’s.

Although it is difficult to persuade the experts to agree on something, in this case, they were almost unanimous, two to three days in hot weather is the longest one should last without changing the nectar. When it comes to cooler fall and even winter weather (if you have non-migratory species in your yard), nectar can last about a week.

How To Make Hummingbird Food Last Longer?

Now that you know the answer to the question “does sugar water for hummingbirds go bad”, we will also show you how to make it last longer.

Don’t overfill feeders. A better option is to cook smaller portions more often and thus be sure that the divine liquid doesn’t sit too long and isn’t exposed to bacteria from their tongues. In case you happen to have extra, it is better to store it in the refrigerator. Finally, regularly clean and sterilize your feeders to prevent cross-contamination.

How To Make Hummingbird Food Last Longer

To Round-Up – Does Sugar Water For Hummingbirds Go Bad?

As is the case with human food, so it is with nectar. It can spoil, just as quickly and easily as anything else. Always remember that it is crucial to avoid situations that may lead hummingbirds to associate your backyard feeders with the nasty taste of rotten, fermented nectar!

Did you already know the answer to this question or did the answer surprise you? Let us know in the comments.

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