Illegal to use sugar water in California???

lanternboy(Z8 WA)December 16, 2007

I sent my sister a hummer feeder in October and I told her I like the 4 to 1 sugar water mix better then the store bought stuff. She called me yesterday and told me it was illegal to feed hummingbirds sugar water in California?

Is this true??? Never heard of such a thing!

Thanx for any help.

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No way that's true. Wonder if she heard that from some health food nut who thinks hummingbirds ought to eat tofu.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 8:08PM
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terri_pacnw(z7-8 WA)

Well I have been feeding sugar water at the 4:1 ratio for a few years now..Must have been doing something right..I now have 2 hummers still with me. They are on 3:1 now though since it's December and the highs are no more than 45F.
My very bright male was out there this morning when I went out to pick a rose for the tortoises breakfast.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 12:47PM
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Absolutely not true. The 4 to 1 sugar water mix is exactly what's recommended here by bird supply stores and animal shelters.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 3:08AM
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If that was so, I should be locked up for life.

I average 2 gallons of 4:1 mix a day in summer and a gallon a day in winter. Yep... that's over 1000 gallons a year.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 6:18PM
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terri_pacnw(z7-8 WA)

WOW..I know how much work 2 my one feeder rotation is..but I'd love to have that many visitors!!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 10:43PM
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I only have visitors during the spring and summer. I have 8-10 feeders up then. I use more sugar water during migration south. Then they can empty a feeder in one day.

I was told to use the sugar water mixture in the beginning when I started feeding the hummingbirds. I didn't reply before because I live in Alabama and I knew it wasn't illegal here in the south.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 10:33AM
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Very interesting...I lived in San Diego for 15 years....and never ever heard of such....but I will tell you that I rescued a baby that fell from it's nest and took it to Chula Vista where there was a lady who was registered on a site I found online as a certified? humingbird rescue place, any hoo...I remember her telling me that the sugar water formula was not good for humingbirds...I dont remember what it was she said it did to them...but it had to do with their growth and development...If memory serves she said that it can negatively affect their growth??? dont know how true that is either...but she went through a huge list of all the massive amount of proteins that the mother bird feeds the babies...maybe it was that the sugar water was not good for the little ones?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 11:36PM
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Sugar water replicates very closely the natural plant nectar that is a part of a hummingbird's normal diet. But nectar is only a portion of that diet, which is primarily insects or other sources of protein. Nectar (or sugar water) is a high energy source that hummers use to maintain their caloric intake to fuel their hunt for proteins. Feeders are only supplemental food sources, generally provided to attract the birds in the first place and to augment the possible lack of natural nectar sources present in the winter months.

It seems likely that a baby, not getting nourishment from its mother, would not develop in the same manner on just a nectar or sugar water diet, so what the rescue woman is saying makes a lot of sense. But there is no earthly reason NOT to provide sugar water to the adult birds (and even their young) as a supplement as long as it is kept fresh, clean and free from bacterial and fungal organisms, which can grow and proliferate rapidly on that nutrient source. And of course any artificial colorings are a no-no and totally unnecessary anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: hummingbird diets and supplemental feeders

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 10:59AM
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While on a trip to Lake Hope State Park in Ohio the park rangers there said the they think the the store bought Nectar with the red in it is hurting the hummers and to use the sugar water.But to only put in enough for 2 days at the most to keep the feeders clean. They also said the the feeders made by First Nature is the best because you can take the bottom apart to clean. This park is one that you can go to and hand feed the hummers there which is really fun.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 1:15PM
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Supposedly it is the number 2 color dye that is not good for the hummers but sugar water is still good so use it.
I remember hearing this years ago. that is only if my memory serves me right...


    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 1:35PM
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I can understand not using the premade liquids on the market or anything that contains dye but plain sugar water??
No way.
There's people in my neighborhood that dye sugar water many different colors...sometimes makes me wish I had a BB gun!
I left a note at another neighbor's house one time when I saw a feeder full of that red stuff in their backyard...may do the same if I can find a place to leave it.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 10:46AM
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GOOD FOR YOU!!!! And that BB gun sounds like a good idea too, but don't put your eye out.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 11:18AM
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I'm wondering of the hummer rescuer meant that they can't survive on nectar/sugar water alone ?

Alot of people assume that's ALL they eat - but the sugar water is really only the jet fuel that fuels their bug hunts for protein.

I use only homemade sugar water - the premade stuff has too many weird ingredients and why spend so much on additives?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 1:22PM
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Sugar water makes up only 40% of the hummer's diet; bugs (protein) makes up the other 60%.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 11:53PM
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boozie - where did you find that proportion of bugs to nectar? The books I have don't get that specific.

Carol - maybe you heard that before 1976 when red dye no. 2 was banned. They use other red dyes now but these may be just as bad (see the link for more on that).

My next door neighbors just put out a feeder with red stuff in it but they're not nice people so I don't really feel comfortable talking to them about it. I'll just make sure my feeder is fresher and sweeter than theirs. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Should I add red dye to my hummingbird food?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 2:13PM
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When the hummers are here I like to be outside early with my coffee and watch the hummers gather up small insects and knats etc. plus my feeders and flowers.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 1:30AM
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