[Tweeters] Thoughts on Winter Feeding of Hummingbirds

Allison Reak areak823 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 09:46:36 PST 2018

Feeding diluted whey protein with live bacteria and yeast to a hummingbird
is an experiment to which one can never know the answer because you (in
general, not personally directed) aren't looking for a result, you're just
doing something that makes you feel good. Why would whey--a long-chained
dairy protein that is difficult for humans to digest--be OK for hummingbirds
that have no adaptation to digesting milk or milk proteins? Why would live
bacteria species found in human guts (aka probiotics) be beneficial to
animals that have evolved a different digestive system? How would
hummingbirds become adapted to digest a "probiotic" fungus that ferments
grains, if they never eat fresh or fermented grain?

Hopefully, a dilute solution of human food mixed with sugar water and good
intentions will cause no harm. However, you will never know how those
additives affected their kidney or liver functions, or un-balanced their
intestinal flora and fauna, leading to a shortened life span and pre-mature
death. Aren't these the same concerns that have prompted people to stop
adding red dye to their feeders?

Another way to consider the adulterated nectar feeding experiment is this:
If my infant daughter were hungry, would I mix up a supplemental liquid of
sugar water and ground-up spiders as a quick snack? Maybe add some wild
bacteria from the bird bath? It's perfect for hummingbirds, so it must be
good for humans, right? And if she doesn't die from regular doses of the
concoction, does that mean it's beneficial? But alas, unlike a hummingbird,
an infant can't fly herself 100 miles a day to find a warmer zone with
better food sources.

Allison Reak

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