Hummingbirds are beautiful little creatures who can be found in all parts of the Americas. People have various ways of attracting them to their feeders, but red nectar is not one that you should be using.
These tiny birds are hardy animals, but humans have been careless and can do serious damage to their nests. Here are some tips on how to feed them properly.
Before you fill up your feeder, it is important to learn what that vibrant color could be doing to a hummingbird’s delicate system.
Thanks to Happinest Wildlife Rehabilitation & Rescue in Tennessee, the message is beginning to spread: keep red nectar far away from your garden visitors.
Gardeners and bird-lovers were led to believe that red nectar is one of the best ways to attract hummingbirds because they associate the bright red hue with flowers.
The sugary, cherry-red juice is placed in hummingbird feeders, but it has become apparent that the red coloring in the nectar is not good for these precious little creatures.
Happinest Wildlife Rehabilitation & Rescue is a wild animal welfare organization in Signal Mountain, Tennessee that has been seeing more and more hummingbirds with strange symptoms, and took to Facebook and to their own website to explain the cause.
The post took off with more than 100,000 people sharing the rehab’s dire warning about what can happen to hummingbirds who eat too much red nectar.
The photo Happinest posted was taken while some of the birds were in the rehab and show a number of hummingbird droppings. The droppings are surrounded by halos of orange-pink stain from the red nectar they took in.
In the caption, they write:
“Please do NOT use red hummingbird nectar!
I’m getting so many hummers who can’t fly because they are very sick and ALL are urinating red dyes.
Red nectar is very harmful and I don’t know what it will take to stop stores from selling it.
Boil your own sugar water: 4 parts water, one part sugar.
Red feeders will attract them and the hummers will thank you!”
The center does not know exactly what the red dye is doing to the birds, but it’s definitely impacting their ability to fly, which is vital to a hummingbird’s survival.
On the Happinest website, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes, “The bottom line is that ‘instant nectar’ products containing artificial coloring are at best a waste of your hard-earned money and at worst a source of disease, suffering, and premature death in hummingbirds.”
The red nectar is particularly dangerous to hummingbird eggs and fledglings, because the eggshell might be compromised by the chemicals, and the fledglings are too small to cope with the dyes.
The red nectar is actually much more expensive than ordinary sugar water or simple syrup.
Feeding birds clear sugar water, which is very similar to plant nectar, is much safer!
You can still use bright reds to attract hummingbirds by purchasing a hummingbird feeder with bright red flower shapes and fill it up with the clear nectar.
You can purchase clear hummingbird-safe nectar in most home and garden stores, or learn to make your own on the Happinest website, which is easy and cost-effective!
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