Ever found yourself pondering what other foods hummingbirds might enjoy, aside from the regular sugar water that they’re known for? I remember when I first started questioning this myself.

After diving deep into some research, it turns out there’s actually a whole lot more to a hummingbird’s diet than just nectar. This article is your roadmap to exploring an array of food alternatives that you can easily incorporate into their feeding schedule – options that not only diversify their meals but also contribute significantly towards their overall health and wellbeing.

You’re in for an eye-opening adventure as we venture beyond the typical sweetened water and step into the diverse culinary world of these tiny feathered beings!

Key Takeaways

  • Hummingbirds have a diverse diet that includes protein-rich insects, natural nectar from flowers, saps and tree exudates, and fruits and berries.
  • Feeding hummingbirds alternative foods provides them with nutritional variety, attracts a wider range of species, and supports their natural foraging behavior.
  • Avoid giving hummingbirds artificial sweeteners, honey, molasses, or red food dye as these can be harmful to their health.
  1. Hummingbirds eat more than just sugar water – they also enjoy protein-rich insects like spiders and larvae.
  2. Planting hummingbird – friendly flowers like trumpet vine and salvia can attract these birds to your garden.
  3. Offering fruits and berries or setting up fruit feeders are great ways to provide alternative food options for hummingbirds.
  4. Avoid harmful foods like artificial sweeteners or red food dye when feeding hummingbirds.

What Do Hummingbirds Eat Besides Sugar Water?

Hummingbirds have a diverse diet that goes beyond sugar water, including protein-rich insects, natural nectar from flowers, saps and tree exudates, and even fruits and berries.

Protein-rich insects

Hummingbirds love bugs! Tiny insects, spiders, and their eggs are main parts of their diet. They need these little critters for fat and salt. The protein from the bugs also helps hummingbirds build strong muscles.

Plus, chasing after flying insects is a fun way for them to stay sharp and active in the wild. So don’t worry if you see a hummingbird snacking on an insect or two – it’s good for them!

Natural nectar from flowers

I love watching hummingbirds flit around my garden, especially when they’re sipping on natural nectar from flowers. Hummingbirds have a special relationship with flowers because they rely on the sweet nectar as their main source of energy.

The brightly colored blooms are like inviting fuel stations for these tiny birds. When I plant a variety of nectar-rich flowers, such as salvia, bee balm, and columbine, it attracts different hummingbird species to my yard.

They dart from one blossom to another, using their long beaks to reach the sugary treat hidden deep inside each flower. It’s fascinating to watch them drink up the natural goodness!

Saps and tree exudates

Hummingbirds can also feed on saps and tree exudates, which are sticky substances found in certain trees. These sweet liquids provide them with an additional source of energy. While not as common as sugar water or natural nectar, saps and tree exudates can be a nutritious alternative for hummingbirds.

They contain sugars that can fuel their high metabolic rate and help them stay active throughout the day. Some trees that produce these sticky substances include maple, birch, and pine trees.

Hummingbirds may use their specialized tongues to access these saps by licking or probing into small holes in the bark where the sap collects. It’s important to note that not all tree saps are safe for hummingbirds to consume, so it’s best to observe their natural feeding behavior rather than attempting to provide this food source artificially.

Fruits and berries

Hummingbirds also enjoy eating fruits and berries. These provide a natural source of sweetness and are rich in nutrients. Some popular options include sliced oranges, apples, grapes, and cherries.

You can place these fruits on a feeder or hang them from tree branches using string or skewers. The bright colors will attract hummingbirds, and they will happily feed on the juicy treats.

Keep in mind that the fruits should be fresh and not overripe to avoid attracting ants or other insects.

Benefits of Feeding Hummingbirds Alternative Foods

Feeding hummingbirds alternative foods provides them with nutritional variety, attracts a wider range of species, and supports their natural foraging behavior. Read on to discover how you can provide these benefits for your feathered friends!

Nutritional variety

Hummingbirds benefit from having a variety of foods in their diet. While sugar water provides them with energy, adding different types of food can give them the nutrients they need to stay healthy and active.

Including protein-rich insects like fruit flies and gnats gives hummingbirds important fats and proteins. Fruits and berries are also a great addition to their diet, providing vitamins and minerals.

By offering these alternative foods, we can ensure that hummingbirds receive a well-rounded nutritional intake.

Attracting a wider range of hummingbird species

To attract a wider range of hummingbird species, it’s important to provide them with a variety of food options. While sugar water and natural nectar are their main sources of energy, offering fruits and insects can help lure different types of hummingbirds to your backyard.

These tiny birds enjoy the sweetness of fruits like oranges and bananas, as well as the protein-rich goodness of small insects and spiders. By diversifying their diet, you’ll have the chance to welcome a greater number of hummingbird species into your garden.

Supporting their natural foraging behavior

To support the natural foraging behavior of hummingbirds, it’s important to provide them with a variety of food options. This allows them to mimic their diet in the wild and eat foods that they would naturally find while searching for nectar and insects.

By offering alternative foods like fruits, insects, and artificial nectar, you can encourage hummingbirds to explore different food sources and engage in their natural feeding behavior.

Adding diversity to their diet not only provides nutritional benefits but also attracts a wider range of hummingbird species to your backyard. So, consider offering a mix of foods that support their natural foraging instincts!

Foods to Avoid Giving to Hummingbirds

Avoid giving hummingbirds artificial sweeteners, honey, and molasses as these can be harmful to their health. Red food dye should also be avoided as it can have negative effects on their digestion.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are not suitable for feeding hummingbirds. Hummingbirds rely on natural sources of sugar, like nectar from flowers or sugar water, to meet their energy needs.

Artificial sweeteners do not provide the same nutritional value and can be harmful to hummingbirds if consumed regularly. It is best to avoid using artificial sweeteners when trying to attract hummingbirds and instead focus on providing them with more natural food options that they enjoy, such as fruits or insects.

These alternatives will better support the health and well-being of these beautiful birds.

Honey and molasses

Honey and molasses are not recommended as food options for hummingbirds. While they do contain natural sugars, they lack the necessary nutrients that hummingbirds need for their diet.

Hummingbirds primarily rely on sugar water and natural nectar from flowers to meet their energy needs. These sources provide them with the right balance of carbohydrates and nutrients.

So, it’s best to stick to these more suitable options rather than offering honey or molasses to hummingbirds.

Red food dye

I don’t recommend using red food dye to attract hummingbirds. While it may seem like a good idea to add color to the nectar, it can actually harm the birds. Red food dye is made of synthetic chemicals that can be harmful and toxic to hummingbirds.

It’s best to stick with natural options like planting red or orange flowers or using red feeders as visual cues for attracting them instead.

How to Provide Alternative Foods for Hummingbirds

To provide alternative foods for hummingbirds, you can plant hummingbird-friendly flowers, set up fruit feeders or fruit trays, and offer small dishes of protein-rich insects.

Planting hummingbird-friendly flowers

I love planting hummingbird-friendly flowers in my garden because they attract these beautiful birds. Here are some great options:

  • Trumpet Vine: Its bright red or orange tubular flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds.
  • Salvia: This plant produces long spikes of vibrant, nectar-rich flowers that hummingbirds love.
  • Bee Balm: Its showy blooms come in various colors and provide a good nectar source.
  • Cardinal Flower: The striking red flowers of this plant are a favorite of hummingbirds.
  • Lupine: Hummingbirds are attracted to the tall, colorful spikes of lupine flowers.
  • Penstemon: This plant has trumpet-shaped blossoms that come in different shades and attract hummingbirds.

Setting up fruit feeders or fruit trays

Setting up fruit feeders or fruit trays is a great way to attract hummingbirds and provide them with alternative food options. Here are some tips on how to do it effectively:

  1. Choose a shallow dish or tray: Hummingbirds have small beaks, so they can easily access the fruits. A shallow dish or tray will make it easier for them to feed.
  2. Select ripe, soft fruits: Hummingbirds prefer fruits that are ripe and soft because they are easier to eat. Some good options include bananas, oranges, peaches, and mangoes.
  3. Cut the fruits into small pieces: Slice the fruits into small pieces that are easy for hummingbirds to pick up and eat. This will also help prevent wastage.
  4. Place the feeder or tray in a safe location: Find a spot in your garden where the feeder or tray can be easily seen by hummingbirds but is also protected from predators like cats.
  5. Keep the feeder or tray clean: Regularly clean the feeder or tray to prevent mold growth and ensure that the food is fresh for the hummingbirds.

Offering small dishes of protein-rich insects

One way to provide alternative food options for hummingbirds is by offering small dishes of protein-rich insects. Hummingbirds rely on insects, such as fruit flies and gnats, for their protein intake. These tiny creatures are a great source of fat, protein, and salts, which are essential for the birds’ overall health. By placing small dishes of these insects around your yard or garden, you can attract hummingbirds and provide them with an important part of their diet. Remember to choose live or freeze-dried insects that have not been treated with any harmful chemicals.


In conclusion, there are many options for feeding hummingbirds besides sugar water. They can enjoy protein-rich insects like small spiders and larvae, as well as natural nectar from flowers or saps from trees.

Offering fruits and berries or setting up fruit feeders can also attract different species of hummingbirds. Remember to avoid harmful foods like artificial sweeteners or red food dye.

By providing these alternative food options, you can support the nutritional needs and natural foraging behavior of hummingbirds in your area.


1. What can I feed hummingbirds besides sugar water?

You can offer hummingbird food alternatives like grape jelly, small insects, and artificial nectar.

2. Can I use other sugars for feeding hummingbirds?

Yes, you can use honey or corn syrup as a substitute for sugar in feeding hummingbirds.

3. Are there non-sugar options for feeding hummingbirds?

Yes, small insects are ideal nonsugar options to provide a healthy diet for the birds.

4. What else can attract hummingbirds apart from sugar content foods?

Other foods that attract hummingbirds include ash and sand which they consume as grit.

5. Can additives be harmful to Hummingbirds?

Yes, certain additives found in some store-bought nectars could harm hummingbirds.

6. What are natural food sources for Humming Birds?

Humming Birds love small insects and get nutrition from them too! They also rely on natural nectar found in flowers.

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