[Tweeters] Hummingbird feeders

Rachel Lawson rwlawson5593 at outlook.com
Sun Dec 26 16:04:23 PST 2021

Speaking of assuming what you hear is true...

I have heard for years and years that only granulated white sugar, AKA sucrose, should be used to make nectar for hummingbirds. Honey is supposed to be especially bad.

It certainly is true that badly maintained feeders can become contaminated with fungi and bacteria, and this contamination may cause fatal candida infections of the hummingbirds' tongues. But this is true of feeders using nectar made with plain white sugar. It is possible that nectar made with honey or another form of sugar may spoil more quickly than nectar made with white sugar, but supposing that a honey-based nectar feeder is kept scrupulously clean and fresh, is there any actual evidence that honey is particularly harmful? The nectar-feeding birds I cared for as a bird keeper at the zoo thrived on a packaged mixture of carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins specially formulated to provide the energy and nutrients the birds needed to replace the flower nectar and insects they would eat in the wild. We carefully kept the feeders clean and fresh, and, despite all those extra ingredients, had no trouble with contamination or infections. I asked a lot of zoo people and others about honey, and, though they all "knew" not to feed it to hummingbirds, no one could ever come up with any real, published data to back that up.

If anyone knows of actual studies that have produced actual data about harm to hummingbirds specifically from honey, either because of the chemical composition of honey or its tendency to spoil quickly, I would really, really like to see them. Anecdotal evidence does not count. I am NOT saying that honey is safe for hummingbirds and we all should start putting it in our feeders. I just want to see the science.

Rachel Lawson
rwlawson5593 at outlook.com

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From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> on behalf of Sammy Catiis <hikersammy at msn.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 26, 2021 2:07:02 PM
To: Vicki <vickibiltz at gmail.com>; David Hutchinson <florafaunabooks at hotmail.com>
Cc: tweeters at u.washington.edu <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Hummingbird feeders

Very dangerous to assume what you hear is just fine. NO on the Glycerin. Before you spread information, make sure it's true and you can always send Cornell Lab an email to verify.
Use only granulated white cane sugar and fresh water. Store bought hummingbird food contains preservatives; avoid it. Never use honey which is fatal to hummingbirds; do not use food coloring, artificial sweeteners or other forms of sugar. Make sure the mixture is at room temperature before hanging the feeder.

Thank you,
it is OK during these cold times to up the ratio of sugar to 1/3 to 1.


From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> on behalf of Vicki <vickibiltz at gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, December 25, 2021 10:56 PM
To: David Hutchinson <florafaunabooks at hotmail.com>
Cc: tweeters at u.washington.edu <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Hummingbird feeders

You are joking about the glycerine, right???

On Sat, Dec 25, 2021 at 4:03 PM David Hutchinson <florafaunabooks at hotmail.com<mailto:florafaunabooks at hotmail.com>> wrote:
A few more suggestions taken from feeder operators in
the Magnolia/Queen Anne areas :

For vertical feeders, wool socks, carefully attached.

Labor intensive - have a bunch of loaded feeders ready
and swap them out as often as you can tolerate.

Finally take some glycerine and put a few drops in each
of your feeders. It should lower the freezing temperature
a few degrees abd apparently does no harm.

David Hutchinson, 206-499-7305
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vickibiltz at gmail.com<mailto:vickibiltz at gmail.com>

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