Ask a Naturalist: What do hummingbirds eat?

March 16, 2021

Written by Angie Cha


Hummingbirds have a long, needle-like beak perfect for reaching into flowers for nectar. Their main diet consists of this nectar from various flowers as well as small insects like aphids, beetles, and mosquitos. They will sometimes eat spiders and use spiderwebs as a material in their nest building. These webs bind their nest after weaving together twigs and other pieces of plants and are also used to anchor the nest to the foundation such as a tree branch. 

A hummingbird can consume insects and nectar in half their body weight every ten to fifteen minutes. In a day, they can visit roughly 1,000 Ė 2,000 flowers which makes them one of natureís many incredible pollinators! 


Hummingbirds also regularly visit feeders. When used correctly, these feeders provide a nectar alternative for hummingbirds when it is late in the spring season and when migrating. Please be sure to mix the correct ratio of sugar and water when making hummingbird feed, and do not use food coloring. Check out Audubonís website to learn how to make your own hummingbird feed that is beneficial and healthy for our local hummingbirds!

Feeders will attract hummingbirds and you may be able to see multiple visit for the sugar-water mixture. Many feeders allow more than one hummingbird to get nectar, reducing the chances of the birds fighting one another for resources (these types are perfect for backyard hummingbird watching). Hummingbirds are also known for defending their feeding area even when they are not feeding so donít be alarmed if you see this natural behavior in action. 


Not only are hummingbirds a sight to see with their beautiful bright colors and tiny size, many plant species rely on these birds. As mentioned earlier, hummingbirds are important pollinators that are able to pollinate flowers that cannot be easily reached by other birds. For instance, plants that grows long-tubed flowers rely on hummingbirds to help pollinate as hummingbirds are able to reach their nectar with their long, thin adapted beaks.


Create stunning, colorful hummingbird window decorations. Follow the instructions here (or click the image below) on how to create these window arts! 



Find those unused containers and make your own feeder! Click here to see 16 types of feeders that you can make for hummingbirds! Or you can always buy a feeder and hang it in a place where you can watch hummingbirds from a distance!