How Long Does Hummingbird Nectar Last?

What is Hummingbird Nectar?

Hummingbird nectar is a mix of water and sugar that a hummingbird feeds on.

It is the hummingbird’s favorite food, and it’s vital to keep the bird’s nectar fresh and nutritious to prevent causing harm to the bird. 

How Long Does Hummingbird Nectar Last?

The hummingbird nectar is simply a combination of water and sugar, and keeping it fresh is a desire for all Hummingbird keepers.

However, the nectar does not last for so long.

Storing the nectar for a long time is also a problem because of the sugar in the mix that tends to break down into other carbohydrate forms.

Learning how to keep the hummingbird nectar healthy and fresh is, therefore, very important.

How to Tell If Hummingbird Nectar Is Bad?

The Hummingbird Nectar loses it’s characteristic clear and transparent nature when it is bad.

There are signs to look out for to tell if the nectar is spoilt and no longer healthy for the bird’s consumption.

Signs of Spoilage

  • The nectar has a cloudy appearance or a milky color.
  • Fungi, bacteria, or mold growing in the nectar or feeding port.
  • A strong smell is emitting from the nectar.
  • The feeding ports have sticky food remnants on them.
  • The nectar has insects floating on it.

Beyond these signs, one way to know that the hummingbird nectar is bad is that the bird will avoid it.

The bird will only be forced to drink spoiled nectar if it’s quite hungry, and there’s no alternative source.

Factors That Can Spoil Nectar

The following factors can influence hummingbird nectar spoilage:

  1. Insects or Bugs: The hummingbird nectar is a very sweet solution, and insects love that.

    As a result, it’s common to find them in the nectar’s mixture. Their presence contaminates the nectar, leading to spoilage.

  2. Hot Temperatures: Hot temperatures enhance fermentation, and this plays out in hummingbird nectar spoilage with increasing temperature.

    You must replace the nectar regularly during hot months as the hummingbird won’t feed on it due to its repulsive smell.

  3. Proximity to Other Birds: If your hummingbirds are close to other birds, you’ve got a lot to worry about.

    The pigeon bird, for example, has the habit of defecating where it feeds. This is likely to get the hummingbird nectar contaminated.

The Dangers of Bad Nectar

The hummingbird loves to be fed with fresh and healthy nectar, but feeding them with a bad one comes with its dangers.

Hummingbird Nectar

Spoiled nectar provides far less nutrition to the hummingbird than a good one would provide.

Also, the hummingbird finds it quite difficult to digest bad nectar causing gastrointestinal problems.

Spoiled nectar typically has fungi, bacteria, and mold growing on it, and these organisms are dangerous to the hummingbird’s health.

Also, the pungent smell of bad nectar draws rats, bears, and various insects to the bird’s feeding area, leading to disturbance and discomfort for the bird.

A coated bill on a hummingbird is not a pleasant sight, and feeding the bird with spoilt nectar gives that outcome.

The thick, fermented nectar will coat the bird’s bill and feathers.

How to Make a Hummingbird Nectar

Are you a hummingbird enthusiast looking for the best hummingbird recipe? Making hummingbird nectar is so easy, and won’t take you more than five minutes.

Here’s a recipe that’ll give you fresh, healthy and nutritious nectar for your hummingbirds:


  1. Table sugar (1 part)
  2. Warm water (4 parts) 
  3. Spoon
  4. Glass or bowl


  • Mix the table sugar and warm water in a glass or bowl. The warm water enables the sugar to dissolve easily.
  • Turn with the spoon until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Your fresh nectar is more than ready to be poured into the feeders.

How to Keep a Hummingbird Nectar Fresh

Naturally, sugar breaks down into other carbohydrate forms over time.

The goal of preserving hummingbird nectar, however, is keeping the nectar fresh and healthy long enough for the bird long.

The following steps will help keep hummingbird nectar fresh:

  • The longer nectar stays in a feeder; the more spoilage is bound to happen.

    So using a smaller feeder that can only carry a small amount of nectar is an excellent way of keeping the nectar fresh. The birds will drink the nectar before it gets bad.

  • Storing the nectar in a refrigerator will keep it fresh for later use. Better still, you can prepare a small amount of nectar as needed.

  • Exposure to sunlight can cause the nectar to ferment and go bad. So it’s recommended you keep the feeders under shades.

  • The nectar can spoil quickly when contaminated with microbes. Regular sterilization of the feeders will prevent that.

See Also: The Ultimate Guide To What do Birds Eat

FAQs – The Short Answers

Does hummingbird nectar go bad?

The hummingbird nectar does go bad when left for a long time, and the sugar starts to ferment. Contamination with microbes also leads to spoilage.

When should I take down my hummingbird feeder?

You should take your hummingbird feeder down when you begin to notice any sign of nectar spoilage on the feeder, such as thick or crystal-like residue, insects floating on the nectar, or a strong odor.

How often should you change the nectar in a hummingbird feeder?

As soon as you notice any sign of spoilage.

How do you keep hummingbird nectar fresh?

Using a smaller feeder that can only carry a small amount of nectar is a great way of keeping the nectar fresh.

The birds will drink the nectar before it gets bad.

You can also keep the nectar fresh by storing it in a refrigerator for later use.

Better still, consider preparing a small amount of nectar as needed.

Exposure to sunlight can cause the nectar to ferment and go bad. So it’s recommended you keep the feeders under shades.

Regular sterilization of the feeders will prevent the nectar from being contaminated with microbes.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.