Updated at: 08-08-2022 - By: Jane Brody

It is a frequent misperception that only red nectar will attract hummingbirds but in fact hummers will gladly feed from feeders filled with food of any hue or transparency.

Red food for hummingbirds can help attract them, but that color alone likely indicates the usage of artificial food coloring, which can be harmful to the birds. Use a red-tinted bottle on a hummingbird feeder, but serve the nectar in its original clear form.

Red Hummingbird Food-3

The optimum color for a hummingbird feeder is red, and a red-tinted container should be used to create the impression that red nectar is being consumed without any trace of food coloring.

I can guarantee that your hummingbirds will become sick if you put red food coloring into their nectar.

Hummingbird food shouldn’t be red, and it isn’t necessary to have a red hummingbird food in order to attract hummingbirds to your feeder; a clear sugar water combination would do the trick just as well.

As a result, it is impossible to generalize about the contents of different brands of food coloring or dye. Never would I put food coloring in my hummingbird feeder because it ruins the internal feeder and leaves a fading crimson stain on everything.

Feeders for hummingbirds made of glass or plastic are risk-free, however those colored with food dye or coloring should be avoided.

Only water and sugar, the main components of nectar, should be placed in a hummingbird feeder.

Red hummingbird food indicates the use of artificial food coloring or dye, both of which can make hummers sick or even kill them.

Success is in red food

Although it’s not strictly required, making your own nectar to put in a hummingbird feeder can attract more hummers.

If you want to attract hummingbirds, you shouldn’t color the nectar but instead rely on the red tint of the feeder’s glass or plastic bottle.

Since most hummingbird food is prepared at home, any red coloring would have to be added, which is not advised because it could be harmful to the birds.

It doesn’t matter if the food in the hummingbird feeder is red or transparent; the tiny birds will be attracted to it either way. Wild nectar comes in a rainbow of colors, including red, orange, yellow, amber, brown, green, blue, and black.

Therefore, it is safe to assume that hummingbirds will consume nectar of any color, as long as it has the nutrients they require.

Red food for hummingbirds can increase consumption, but only if hummers associate that color with hummingbird feeders.

Food coloring NOT an option

Red Hummingbird Food-2

You would never even consider turning the homemade nectar you create at home into a different hue, especially not red.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that red food coloring (also known as food dye) used in cake frosting or other baking applications is probably not suitable for hummers to eat.

The food coloring that is typically present is not natural, and the sugars and preservatives added to it may be masking the presence of other, more dangerous substances.

Hummingbirds are particularly susceptible to the effects of too much salt, which can be found in some food colorings. Hummingbird feeders attract a wide variety of birds, including chickadees, orioles, and even squirrels.

Because of this, you should never try to alter the color of homemade nectar by adding food coloring.

If the red nectar is purchased from a reputable retailer, then it is probable that the component used to modify the color of the nectar is safe.

Feeders should be red

Red Hummingbird Food

Consider purchasing a red hummingbird feeder instead of trying to dye the food red.

You need to understand that hummingbirds have learned, over the course of many centuries, that nectar can only be found in specialized hummingbird feeders.

A hummingbird feeder with red body, perches, or trimming is great, but the color of the glass or plastic container also matters.

You can use this money to purchase a high-quality hummingbird feeder with red accents, but the bottle’s coloring is necessary if you want the birds (and yourself) to believe the food inside is also red.

A red bottle to store the nectar in is not required, but it is more safer than using red food colouring.

In order to gauge how well my homemade nectar is doing, I like using a hummingbird feeder with a bottle made of clear glass. If it has to be replaced soon or if it includes something harmful, I will know.


Hummingbirds have come to associate red food with the feeder, so you may experience more success with that.

However, if your homemade nectar is red, it’s because you added red food coloring to the sugar water.

Many food colorings include unknown substances that may be hazardous to hummingbirds. Another problem is that some food colorings contain salt, which is extremely toxic to hummingbirds.

In fact, any bird that visits the feeder for the hummingbird food risks becoming unwell.

Red food coloring should never be used if the color of the nectar is achieved solely by the red tint of the plastic or glass bottle holding it.

If you want to attract more hummers, paint your hummingbird feeder red, especially the body, perches, and any trim. The most noticeable difference will be the red bottle, which requires no artificial food coloring.

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