What Do Hummingbirds Eat?

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman discuss what do hummingbirds eat—their diet includes more foods than you may think!

hummingbird at sugar water feederCourtesy Alicia Casey
Hummingbird eats at a sugar water feeder

Hummingbird Drink Sugar Water

Hummingbirds eat a variety of foods in their diet. They drink nectar from flowers and sugar water for energy. Roger Emerick of South Glastonbury, Connecticut, asks, “Should I add anything to the sugar water for my hummingbirds to make it more nutritious?”

When you’re feeding them pure sugar water at your hummingbird feeder, there’s no need to put in additives such as red dye or honey. Offer hummingbirds the perfect meal by making this sugar water recipe.

Learn how to attract hummingbirds with 10 expert tips.

hummingbird photosCourtesy Sonja Puhek
Rufous hummingbird feeds on flower nectar 

Hummingbirds Drink Flower Nectar

Nectar-rich tubular flowers are another way for backyard birders to lure hummingbirds to eat in your backyard. Bee balm, salvia, coral honeysuckle and fuchsia are popular flowers with hummingbirds, offering the vibrant colors they love and easy access to nectar. However, the sweet stuff covers just one dietary need. Hummingbirds forage at other sources besides flowers and feeders.

Check out jaw-dropping facts about hummingbirds.

hummingbird eating a mosquitoCourtesy Jasmin Robinson
A ruby-throated hummingbird eats a mosquito.

Do Hummingbirds Eat Mosquitoes?

Hummingbirds also require protein to survive, and they get their fill of it by eating small insects like fruit flies, mosquitoes and gnats. They eat spiders, too. Multiple food sources like sugar water, flowers and bugs are especially important as young hummingbirds seek nutrition and prepare for fall migration.

Hummingbirds are so resourceful that they often forage for insects in the sap wells drilled in trees by sapsuckers.

Learn more about common hummingbird behaviors.

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.