Hummingbird food

flowerthyme(NW)May 5, 2007

I bought some Birdsong hummingbird necter (clear not the red stuff) and there seems to be small metalic specs in it after the sugar is dissolved. Is this good for the hummers? I don't have any regular white sugar to make some with, it is ok to use natural cane sugar (slight brown color)?

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penny1947(z6 WNY)

No, you should never use the brouwn sugar. I don't know anything about the Birdsong nectar but if I saw metalic specs in it I wouldn't use it. Plain white granualted table sugar is the only thing that I know of that is safe to use.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 8:36AM
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It's not "brown sugar", it's natural cane sugar. Is that ok?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 11:00AM
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You should not use any kind of pre-mix. Use only " white granulated cane sugar. I dont know where you got natural cane sugar I have not seen that around here. The given mix that most people use is 1:4 one part sugar to four parts water

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 12:11PM
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The natural cane sugar is unprocessed sugar from a health food store. And the pre-mixed one is clear and the ingrediants are 100% sucrose. But I don't know what those specs are in it.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 1:47PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

You mentioned that your sugar was a slight brown color so no you should not use it. You should only use the white granulated sugar.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 5:40PM
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Flowerthyme, the health food store is for human health food not hummingbirds. The unprocessed cane sugar has high levels of Iron, Good for humans, "VERY" bad for hummingbirds. The Iron in unprocessed sugars will damage the internal organs of hummingbirds.

Please, just use "White Granulated Pure Cane Sugar" and only that.

If your hummingbirds don't seem to like your feeders it's usually because they are cleaned with soap or dishwasher detergent. They leave a residue that taints the taste to hummingbirds. Switch to cleaning your feeders with white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray them thoroughly leave for a few minutes then rinse.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 10:36AM
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Thank you for explaining it...I just didn't have any white sugar at the time (I bought some now)but I wanted to make sure I was giving them the right thing.

Do you have any ideas about why the Hummingbird food that I bought has those specs in it. I'm sure other people buy that stuff too. I bought the clear because I thought the red color was bad for them. In the red one the specs probably aren't noticeable.

Also, I know not to give them honey you know why?

I am getting some hummers, but only the brown ones. I've seen some red ones in the garden around the plum trees, but none at my feeders.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 3:10AM
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The metal specs in that nectar product are most likely metal filings from the industrial mixers used to manufacture that stuff. Pet food is not subject to the same standards that human food is and that goes for the equipment used to make it. That's why it's better on so many levels to use human food grade sugar to make the nectar. As well the better quality hummingbird feeders are made from human food grade plastics. The cheap dollar store feeders are not made from this quality of plastics and those chemicals leach into the nectar. It's best to use a glass bottle style feeder like the perky pet four fountain or one made from hard polycarbonate like the hummzinger.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 1:07PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Honey causes mold spores to grow rapidly and can be fatal to hummingbirds.

In the PNW you are probably seeing female Rufous. The males are a deeper russet color and may look red. Usually males are a bit more elusive than the females and that may be why you are seeing mostly females at the feeders.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 5:44PM
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I buy the pre-mixed red stuff.
Is the color necessary to attract those guys and gals??

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 5:53AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

The Red stuff is absolutely not necessary and it can be unhealthy for the hummingbirds. Do your pocketbook and the hummers a favor and use plain white granulated table sugar and water. The recommended proportions are 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Boil the water first then add the sugar. Stir to dissolve. Let it cool and fill the feeder. Unused nectar can be stored in the refrigerator. Clean feeders and refill every 2-3 days so that mold doesn't start to form.

A 5 lb. bag of sugar is a lot cheaper and goes a lot further than buying the commercial red stuff. You can make many many gallons of nectar with one 5lb. bag.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 8:14AM
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Here's a to an article from the June 2007 edition of Birders World about why it's not good to feed unrefined sugar to hummers...

Here is a link that might be useful: Since You Asked....Unrefined Sugar and Hummingbirds

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 11:47AM
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The objective of feeders is to provide a nectar that is close to that of real flowers. The closest we can come to that is with a 20-25% sugar solution of White Granulated Pure Cane Sugar. 4 to 1 ratio.

Remember: Real flower nectar is clear and doesn't contain red dye.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 3:27PM
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I accidentally gave baby (eyes not open) hummers some brown sugar water. I say accidentally because my partner just handed the bowl to me n I didn't think twice aabout it I was frazzled that the babies had fallen out of their nest. K back story to fill you in... I was doing yardwork and accidentally cut down a limb that had the nest on it. After replacing and securing the nest as well as the two babies I waited from inside mmy house for momma to come back. She did yay :) so I left it alone. I check on the babies after its dark as to not disturb them when moms around. Last night the nest was empty :( I looked but found nothing it was dark. This morn I found them and replaced them they were screachin and squirmin all over so I thought I should feed them in the middle of feedin momma was flyin a few feet away so I'm hopin she comes back....I'm still waiting its been about a half n hour. My question is am I going to kill or do major damage to those babies from one feeding of brown sugar? I feel horrible:( thanks for any advice

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 12:57PM
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If you are not willing to taste the nectar, don't feed it to your birds. I tried some of the red stuff and it was terrible. My tongue was red for a week.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 6:29PM
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I am still not sure why we are told not to use brown sugar when white sugar is only bleached natural cane sugar.

The Difference between White and Brown Sugar:

Raw sugar comes from sugar cane, and it is a little brown when it is formed. It appears brownish because of the presence of molasses. Manufacturers of sugar will bleach the sugar to remove the molasses, and this makes the sugar white. Brown sugar is produced by adding molasses back to the white sugar. The difference in taste between white and brown sugar is actually the taste of molasses, which will be milder in light brown sugar and stronger in darker brown sugar. Compared to white sugar, brown sugar has a sweeter and richer taste. It also has a moist and clumpy texture, which is different from the dry and grainy texture of white sugar.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sugar

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Feed Hummers only white granulated sugar to feed hummers. Kim, how muxh brown sugar did you feed the hummers?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:13PM
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Usually, when someone joins GardenWeb, and immediately makes incendiary posts, they're a troll. Could this be the case with you, BLASe100??

Here is a link that might be useful: Check out the

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 12:56AM
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Blase100 That is not the difference between brown sugar and white granulated sugar. Brown sugar is unprocesed and unsafe while white granulated sugar has been procesed so its only ingredient is 100% pure granulated sugar.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 9:57AM
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