Hummer info. for you.

patsyann(7b)January 13, 2007

Reply to a post, but I'm posting it here as well...A stronger solution of sugar to water will not deter the hummers. As a matter of fact they love it (BUT) it is very harmful to them, wrecking thier liver. Yes, the flowers have a more concentrated nectar, but it is not refined sugar.Use 1/4 sugar to 1 water.

The bees on the other hand, will go for any sugar solution, as will the yellow jackets. PLEASE don't kill the bees. They do a great deal of pollinating (remember our flower seeds and the farmers crops like cherries, raspberries, grain etc.

The yellow jackets kill and eat a lot of insects that are harmful to our plants. Hummers will always come back to your feeder and get their fair share of the sugar water.

By the way, do not put coloring in the sugar water. It too is harmful to them.

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christy2828(8a)

Patsyann, can you back that up? That it wrecks their liver? No offense, but there are some studies that suggest that even a 1:1 solution of sugar to water is acceptable. This is a well known hummingbird site, with an article backing this up. Thanks! Christy

Here is a link that might be useful: Hummingbirds. Net

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 7:15PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Christy there is still a lot of controversy about the concentration of sugar water. Some plants do have a higher concentration around 40% I believe and maybe a few are even higher but many of the plants have a much lower concentration in the 20- 30% range give or take. These are just average ranges as I don't have my books in front of me right now.

This is why it is recommended to use either 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of water to sugar. I know of banders who use 3:1 exclusively in their feeders year round. I used 3:1 during both migrations and if we have a really hot and dry summer I switch to 4:1.

Penny

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 6:59AM
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christy2828(8a)

Thanks Penny :) Good to 'see' you again! I agree with you using the 3:1 or 4:1 solution, I do the same thing. I was just hoping for some evidence to back up the claim that it wrecks their livers. Patsyann has emailed me, and is looking for the article. I would find it interesting to see! Christy :)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 12:49PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Hey Christy,
BTW, Thanks for the email. I thought I better pop over here to see what was going on. Weather has turned very wintery the past couple of days with lots of freezing rain so I have spent whatever free time I have trying to keep the black capped chicadees, mourning doves and cardinals in food that isn't encased in ice. In fact I need to get out there right now as my doves are foraging.

Penny

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 9:41AM
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archilochusarbors

Have to agree with the others, I am not aware of any evidence supporting the idea that too much sugar in the solution is harmful to the birds liver. I know of several studies though that show that natural nectar, which is nothing more than SUCROSE (no, not glucose or fructose or anything else but plain old table sugar) and water, will run as much as 50% sugar at times. This though is VERY rare in plants, and the plants that run this rich produce nectar only once or twice daily. The average for nectar and sugar is somewhere between a 3:1 and 4:1 mix of water and sugar, so this is what most people recommend for an effective hummingbird sugar mix.

By the way, far more likely to harm the birds liver is the use of red food color in the food.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 11:51AM
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sidk

Archilochusarbors, maybe you'll also give us some details on the studies you mentioned? Googling "nectar sucrose hummingbird" turned up this page at the same website as the article Christy linked to:

http://www.hummingbirds.net/feeders.html

It disagrees with you about sucrose being the only sugar in nectar. On that same page are some interesting comments about that article that Christy linked to. Sounds the doctors that wrote that article aren't necessarily the "first do no harm" kind. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: hummingbird feeders

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 3:22PM
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archilochusarbors

Lanny used a very important word on that website "may" one that I should remember more often. I am not aware of any case in which other sugars show as a part of nectar, but that does not mean they do not occur and I need to remember that. I referenced some notes on nectar concentrations that have been sent to me in personal communication.
It is important to remember that sucrose is a complex sugar - a combination of glucose and fructose. It would not be terribly surprising to have either show in a sucrose mix as a result of natural chemical breakdown. My bad. I should remember some basic chemistry BEFORE typing.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 6:12PM
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sidk

It looks like most nectar has other sugars in it. The online Encyclopedia Britannica entry about nectar says "Mainly a watery solution of the sugars fructose, glucose, and sucrose." More specific Googling turned up a lot more information, including a lot of scientific articles. The ones that you can read free all said basically the same thing. Click the link and you can read them for yourself.

I didn't find any scientific articles about the effect of excessive sugar on hummingbird livers but one article quoted a scientist studying how hummingbirds cope with high blood sugar as saying "these birds have none of the eye, liver, kidney or other problems associated with diabetes." Sounds like an urban legend to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: search: nectar hummingbirds sucrose fructose glucose

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 7:49PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

For those of you intent on disecting the composition of plant nectar, you may find this short article from Iowa St. Univ informative Plant nectar. You will see that it is not made up of only sugar whether simple or complex but also proteins, amino acids, carbs. etc.

Penny

    Bookmark   January 16, 2007 at 8:13AM
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christy2828(8a)

Patsyann forwarded the article if anyone is interested :) Christy

Email me, and I'll forward it to you, I can't figure out how to post it!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 12:24PM
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hummersteve

Hi everyone--havent been overhere for a while , spend a lot of time over at salvia and african violets. Good to see you back "Penny" . I too have read all these articles and have even posted some of them myself. I have not seen one authoritative article proving that an excess of sugar harms them . In fact it seems that hummers have a built in effect that tells them how much to drink. In other words comparing say 3:1 and 4:1 If you have latter in your feeder they will stop more often since they are not getting as much sugar. I personally would rather see them more often. When they first arrive in the year , if you use feeders as I do it wouldnt hurt to up the anti to 3-1 for they will be needing nutrients.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 9:39PM
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mimidi(z8)

I had never heard that a heavy concentration of sugar was bad for a hummingbirds liver until this past week. I was at a hummingbird workshop and the bander holding the workshop said this. Since I have never used any more than a 3-1 ratio (like Penny on during migration) I wasn't concerned.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 1:50PM
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jeannie7

Archilochusarbors,...about the red food coloring.
This only occurs if its 'red-food-coloring #4'...as was removed from the market in Canada....but retained in the U.S. because a U.S. Senator said it killed only Canadian rats.

A month later it was removed from the American market when Canadian officials proved it was cancer causing.

The food coloring on the store shelves is quite safe.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 4:18PM
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sidk

jeannie7, aren't you thinking of red dye #2, which was banned back in 1976? And maybe the dyes on the store shelves today are fine for people but not so safe if you drink as much as a hummingbird does. See the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Should I Add Red Dye to My Hummingbird Food?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 4:10AM
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mimidi(z8)

I can't understand why someone would take the risk of harming the hummingbird by using the stuff with red dye in it. There sure isn't anything easier than mixing sugar with water to make up nectar. It is also cheaper.

I always heard when in doubt, "don't do it".

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 8:32AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Mimidi,
You are so right. I was always told the same thing and I have never been disappointed.

Penny

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 10:42AM
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jimmyjojo

Oh please... dye #4, #2, or #103. It's COMPLETELY unnecessary and only serves ONE purpose. It looks pretty. That's it. I think that's very selfish to risk an animals life needlessly like that just for self satisfaction.

Until a government lab gets 100 hummingbirds and feeds them the red-dye mix for a year and then do Autopsies on the ones that die, we won't know for sure.

So who wants the government to find out for sure? And kill all those birds, just because some selfish people like the look of the pretty red water better. Grow-up!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 10:37AM
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hummersteve

As far as the red dye I dont know for sure if its harmfull or not , I used it when I first started just as an attractant being red. I dont use it now and havent for a long time. The ony thing I have read that can kill hummers is mold or bacteria that can form on feeders that are neglected for a long time. I change my feeders every couple days and then clean them up well.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 11:20PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I think that many of us in the very beginning used the commercial nectar especially if you started 10 yrs ago because their just wasn't as much info out there and of course very few people had access to the internet and all the resources that are available now. I hung my first feeder in the '80's and after using the initial packet of 'nectar' that came with the feeder, I went to the encyclopedia to learn more about feeding hummers since I had so many birds and I found out how to make my own nectar but even then the article I read stated that you could use a few drops of red food coloring to make it more attractive for the birds. It was quite a while after that that I found out that they would still come to a feeder with clear nectar. It is very understandable why so many people are still using the red stuff. I have to say that people are becoming more and more informed in recent years and even newbies are learning right from the start to use plain sugar and water.

A couple of years ago I was at a local garden center and overheard one of the designers telling a couple that wanted to attract hummers to their yard to get a feeder and fill it with 7 UP and sugar. I nearly came unglued and approached the women about this horrendous information that she was giving out to people. She informed me that she was a member of the Co-operative Extension Svc and that one of the dept. heads who was a biologist by trade had given them this recipe and it was completely safe. She was quite adament about it too. She told me that unless I could PROVE him wrong she was going to continue to tell people to use this mixture. I immediatel contacted several hummingbird experts that I knew and had them send me letters that I could give to her and that she could take back to the Ext. Svc. She was still not convinced and said she would give the info to the person who had given the recipe to her. I haven't seen her since so I don't know what happened but I believe that we do have an obligation to try to educate people and when possible print out the correct information and pass it along. The earth would be an empty place without these flying jewels that give us so much enjoyment.

Penny

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 6:58AM
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mimidi(z8)

How right you are Penny.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 10:04AM
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jimmyjojo

We absolutely have an obligation to try to educate people. But what in the world can you do with people who argue with experts? Penny's been educating herself on hummingbirds for over 20 years and still there are people that have the nerve to argue. It's laughable!

Please folks don't use red dye, don't use 7up or pepsi or Dr.P or Jello or coolaid or honey or slimfast or splenda or anything else these dunderheads find in the grocery store.

Please have pitty on the little birds, just use plain white cane sugar. It's the closest to flower nectar and for sure won't harm them.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 4:06PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

OH I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert and I learn a little more each day by observation and from other hummer gardeners and the hummingbird experts that I have come to know and trust. I never just jump on the bandwagon until I know the information is completely accruate and I never add anything to my nectar. Plain white table sugar and water is good enough for me and my little jewels. I have never had one complain or go elsewhere.

Penny

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 5:31AM
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jimmyjojo

Most often when people see hummingbirds trying their feeders and seeming to not really like it, is not the nectar that's the problem. The reason they don't seem to like it is because soap and detergent residue is still there and tainting the taste. I had the same problem years ago before I switched to cleaning my feeders with white vinegar in a spray bottle.

Use white vinegar to clean your feeders and not dish soaps, detergents or bleach. White vinegar sprayed everywhere rub all surfaces inside and out and use a small soft brush in the ports then rinse thoroughly.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 12:54PM
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