Wake Up And Live

Article about hummingbirds and nectar

Posted in Uncategorized by Sarah Skeen on July 26, 2008


We love hummingbirds and love to watch them throughout the day, especially after a long day, relaxing in our backyard nature retreat.

We have 4 feeders that are strategically located throughout our gardens. The red, hummingbird nectar feeders ( red attracts hummingbirds) are placed in areas that are naturally defined “territories” ( as you know, hummingbirds are very territorial) which helps cut down on the fighting.

Our recipe is derived from the old standard recipe, but please be aware that a lot of research has gone into making sure that we are providing the most beneficial source of hummingbird food replacement.

Our recipe starts with cane sugar. As you know, there are two sources of sugar: cane sugar and beet sugar, of which 70% of the world’s supply comes from cane sugar. Both are chemically “sucrose” and fall into the carbohydrate family. Carbohydrates are easily digested and provide the immediate “energy boost” that hummingbirds need to
sustain their incredibly high metabolism. (Comment: I guess if we humans had that kind of metabolism we wouldn’t be facing our obesity crisis! Wow…what a concept …more exercise
…increased metabolic rate …burn more calories …less fat).

Sorry! Back to the topic…the second constituent our hummingbird food recipe is water. Ever thought about the type of water you use for your hummingbird food? We have. The hummingbird’s source water comes from the naturally occurring water sources available: dew, rain water and deposits of rain water, people provided (bird baths), and finally that provided in the hummingbird’s diet.

We use our tap water which is supplied from our well. The water’s chemical composition is generally hard ( contains calcium and magnesium) but has a TDS ( Total Dissolved Solids)
of 275 ppm with no measurable concentrations of lead or arsenic. Its safe for us to drink so the hummers get the benefits of some added minerals. We feel its better than using
distilled or purified water in our hummingbird recipe.

Now, if you’re a city dweller, you may have chlorine or flouride added to your water. I’d recommend boiling that water to flash off the chlorine or flouride, 5 minutes of
boiling should be sufficient.

Next ingredient ….RED COLORING….No way!

Lets look at it from a hummingbird’s perspective. They like red and are attracted to the color due to genetics and environmental stimuli … flowers. If your hummingbird feeder is
red… why do you need more?

Naturally occurring nectar is clear and odorless ( Hummingbirds are not attracted by scent). So why buy these colored or scented mixes?

The red coloring (Red #40) has been banned in countries due to its mutagenic properties ( can cause cancer). Why would you want to introduce chemicals into the hummingbird’s diet that are foreign to their digestive system?

Several experienced, licensed wildlife rehabilitators have reported seeing disturbing damage in hummers that were known to use dyed syrup, including tumors of the bill and liver.

Here is our researched hummingbird food recipe:

1 part cane sugar/ 4 parts water ( no chlorine or fluoride)
Measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water. Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until
ready to use.

Fill one-third of the container and be sure to change the mixture twice a week. You will need to clean your feeder every few days, with hot water and a mild (10%) bleach solution
to inhibit bacteria/mold. Rinse thoroughly before refilling with water syrup.

Hope you enjoyed the article!

George Steiner



One Response

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  1. Mark said, on September 20, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Boiling won’t remove flouride. It is in the form of fluoride ions. They don’t boil out. Chlorine may boil out, so long as it in the form of molecular chlorine. In either case, it probably doesn’t matter to the hummers. Fluoride is actually a natural component in many water supplies. (The anti-fluoridation folks don’t like to have that pointed out to them.) Hummers would get it in flower nectar in those area’s, because the fluoride is in the ground water.

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