Thursday, August 4, 2011

Feeding Hummingbird

Reader Question: Should we use hot water to mix the sugar when we make hummingbird solution? You didn't mention it in a recent article. What about adding red food coloring?

We boil the water before adding sugar because it more completely dissolves the sugar and helps keep bacteria from growing in the mixture. Not necessary to boil the water, but we do it. I've mentioned boiling the water in previous articles, but just did not have enough space in the recent story.

Adding food coloring is rather controversial, but here's where I stand.
The red dye (food coloring) is totally useless because the hummers are
attracted to the red ornaments on the feeding portals rather than to the red liquid. Natural (flower) nectar is a clear liquid, not red, and
flower petals that contain the clear nectar are red, yellow or some other bright color. Some people suggest that the red food coloring may cause intestinal harm because it is not digested or absorbed as a nutrient. The jury is still out on that issue, but my thought is why take the chance? The food coloring certainly offers no benefit at best, and if it may harm the birds, I won't chance it.

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