Should I use red food coloring, or commercial nectar mixes?

cmwren(Mid-Atlantic Coast, z7)January 1, 2013

Why You Really Shouldn't Use Red Coloring or Commercial "Nectar Mixes":

It has not been proven-beyond-any-doubt that the red dye is harmful to hummingbirds but since it is unnecessary to use dye if your hummingbird feeder already has some red on it, why take the chance that red dye might be bad for the birds in the long run? Natural flower nectar isn't colored, so why put something in your sugar solution that the real thing doesn't have?

As for those nectar mixes, not only are they quite a bit more expensive than ordinary white table sugar, wild hummingbirds do not need the "added vitamins and minerals". Flower nectar is, for the most part, pretty much just sugar (sucrose) water. Hummingbirds in the wild get the vital nutrients they need mainly through the insects they eat--which some scientists say could be as much as half their diet. (A hummingbird that appears to be nectaring at any particular flower may instead really be hunting the insects that are attracted to the flower.) Many hummingbird researches feel that nectar is in actuality just the fuel these birds use to power their search for bugs.

Feeder and Feeding Facts ©ALG and GARDEN WEB. Please reference these sources if you use the above information as presented here in any form or media other than for personal, individual use.

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