[CT Birds] Odd Pair plus sugar water

Roy Harvey rmharvey at snet.net
Sun May 4 21:47:52 EDT 2014

I want to follow up with some more information on why plain white granulated cane sugar is the ONLY proper way to make the mix for your hummingbird feeders.

The best summary I've found is at hummingbirds.net in the section on hummingbird feeders:


I will quote just parts, please read the entire article.
"A note about sugars: natural nectars may contain any of the plant sugars, including sucrose, glucose, and fructose. There is no proven advantage in using, say, fructose instead of sucrose (cane or beet sugar). In fact, given the choice, hummingbirds seem to prefer sucrose above all others. Sucrose is by far the most common sugar in the flowers of plants for which hummingbirds are the primary pollenators. Water and sugar (usually sucrose) are the only constituents common to all natural nectars; most also contain traces of minerals and amino acids, but they vary from plant to plant, and probably are of little dietary importance."

And this:
"Americans can't use raw sugar, because its sale is banned in the U.S. due to diverse and unpredictable impurities (bacteria, molds, heavy metals, rat excrement, insect parts, etc.). The so-called "raw" sugar (also known as turbinado) common in third-world countries and marketed by health food stores is actually refined by the same process as white sugar, but without removing all of the molasses and other non-sugar components. The result is a less-pure sucrose that contains about five times as much iron as white sugar; since iron is essential but normally rare in hummingbird diets, their bodies hoard it, and even a modest excess of iron can poison them. If you have the choice, use only white sugar in hummingbird feeders."

Note the use of the word poison.

Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT

Glenn Williams also had some thoughts he wanted to pass along, copied below.  (His second link quotes my source above.)


Interestingly, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, "The Skeptics Guide to the Universe" yesterday and they did a brief bit on organic farming.  The evidence suggests that organic products are not safer and do not even have less pesticide residue.  Organic farmers used pesticides, but only organic ones that are not necessarily safer.  Also, organic sugar contains residue and nutrients harmful to hummingbirds that is not present in the more refined white sugar.  The first link is about organic pesticides in general, the latter is specific to hummingbirds.

Dueling Narratives on Organic Farming

Please, use only white sugar

Glenn Williams

----- Original Message -----
From: Roy Harvey <rmharvey at snet.net>
To: zellene <zellene at earthlink.net>
Cc: ct bird list <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Sunday, May 4, 2014 7:32 AM
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Odd Pair plus sugar water

Actually plain white sugar is refined and cleaner. Do not use anything but refined Cain sugar!

Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT

> On May 4, 2014, at 7:27 AM, zellene <zellene at earthlink.net> wrote:
> Had both a junco and a ruby-throated hummer yesterday at my feeders. 
> I make sugar water for my hummer feeders. I had been using the usual bag of granulated sugar from the market. While at Whole Foods I purchased some organic sugar to try. It makes a brownish liquid. Apparently regular sugar is bleached and contains some other artificial things in it. Not sure if it makes a difference to the birds, but I do not like the idea of there being chemical residues in the sugar.
> Zellene

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