Red Nectar is not a good thing!

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Wild Birds Unlimited – Madison

Why we do not recommend adding food coloring to the hummingbird nectar.


No Red Dyes

Misinformation abounds on the subject of adding food coloring to the sugar water that is used in hummingbird feeders.  One web site even states that it is an “old wives tale” that food coloring is bad for the birds.  These people just don’t understand that birds are not people.   Anthropomorphizing birds or any animals is a common mistake.  This red food coloring topic is a case in point.

First, Hummingbirds are attracted to flowers for the flower’s petal colors clue them to the flower’s sugar laced nectar.  The nectar of flowers is the important source of energy for hummingbirds, and the nectar secretions that flowers provide to attract insects and hummingbirds are not colored.  All hummingbird feeders have red as part of their construction, so red nectar is unnecessary.  Red dye chemicals are not consumed by birds in their natural environment, so why use it?

Second point, Hummingbirds have a very high metabolism that requires a constant supply of sugar energy to keep them alive.  Hummingbirds eat many times their weight in sugar solution depending upon the concentration of the sugar solution.  We recommend a 4:1 ratio.  If there are other chemicals in the solution such as red dyes, these tiny birds will concentrate this chemical to high levels.  The FDA may save the red dyes are safe for humans, but the average ruby-throat hummingbird weighs between 2.4 and 4.5 grams.  A 125 pound person is 56,700 grams; about 16, 000 times larger!  These little birds will concentrate any unnatural chemical in large proportions which may make them sick or worst.

Research is very strong with regard to hummingbirds and the following site details this information.  http://www.hummingbirds.net/hainsworth.html


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