Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > June 2017 > IN THE GARDEN with DOUG - HUMMINGBIRD FOOD - RED OR NATURAL


We are seeing many hummingbirds at the garden center flying around and enjoying all the colorful perennials in bloom.  At the garden center we have the advantage of having hundreds of plants in bloom at this time that support our hummingbird population.  But, at home, we may need to add more food by using a hummingbird feeder.
                The question is:  IS HUMMINGBIRD FOOD WITH RED DYE HARMFUL OR SAFE?
                One study purports that birds which ingested nectar containing red dye produced baby birds which were blind, deformed or had shells which would not open.  Several experienced, licensed wildlife rehabilitators have said that they see disturbing damage in hummers that were known to use dyed syrup, including tumors of the bill and liver.  Most of the concerns for the hummingbird’s safety involves the use of artificial dyes (Red No. 40 and No. 3) that have been FDA approved for human consumption.   But, for our hummingbirds that are so much smaller than humans, these tiny birds burn calories so quickly that they may eat 1 ½ to 3 times their body weight each day.  That’s a lot of red dye.
But, “the jury is still out”.   It seems not to be scientifically proven that red dye is harmful to hummingbirds.  There seems to be no definitive scientific answer one way or the other.  It’s important to understand that this means there is no research that proves red dye is safe for hummingbirds.
                We, here, at the garden center, want to support the “all natural” and be on the side of caution.  We only sell the clear ULTRA ELECTRONECTAR by Pennington.
                Or, a simple, inexpensive mixture of 1 cup sugar to every 4 cups of water heated to a boil, then cooled, is perfect.  The colors on the feeder will be enough to attract the hummingbirds for their first visit; the food will bring them back.  If you decide to provide this home recipe then keeping feeders clean is very important.  The sugar / water mix can ferment fairly quickly, making it bad for the hummingbirds. 
                So there you have it -  clear food or red colored food.  Which do you buy to put in your hummingbird feeder?  Regardless of your decision, keeping feeders clean is the most important point to make at this time.  Bottom line, enjoy the sightings.  They are so pleasing to see and watch.
                                                                HAPPY BIRD WATCHING!!
Posted: 6/27/2017 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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