Stop Feeding Red Nectar To Hummingbirds. Here’s Why

When the springtime gets close, many of us begin to turn our thoughts to the outdoors. Not only do we look forward to planting gardens and spending time outside, we also look forward to the wildlife that makes a visit in the springtime as well. One of those visitors is ultimately going to be hummingbird, and we look forward to feeding them every year.

If you are planning on feeding hummingbirds, here’s a piece of advice that you need to know now. Get rid of the red nectar! This may seem shocking to you, because red nectar has been advertised as the type of feed you should give them, but there is something you need to know about what this color is doing to their delicate system. This message is starting to slowly gain ground but once you see its importance, you will help by passing it on as well.


People have loved feeding birds red nectar for many years. Hummingbirds do associate bright red colors with flowers.

We put the sugary juice in hummingbird feeders and they flock in to feed.

It’s becoming more and more apparent, however, that the red coloring in a lot of those nectars is very bad for these little birds.

Happinest Wildlife Rehabilitation & Rescue is a wildlife welfare organization and they are spearheading this campaign. They have been seeing more and more problems with hummingbirds who have strange symptoms.

When they made the post, it was shared by more than 100,000 people who wanted to let others know about this potential danger to hummingbirds who eat too much red nectar.

The picture they posted was taken in the rehab and it shows hummingbird droppings. All of them are surrounded by an orange pink stain from the red nectar.

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!

Is not 100% clear why the red dye is hurting the birds but it is impacting their ability to fly.

On their website, they cite Cornell Lab of ornithology, which has the following to say:
“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.â€

The red nectar may be dangerous to the eggs and fledglings because the eggshells could be compromised by those chemicals. The fledglings also have to cope with the dyes.

Another problem is the fact that the red nectar is a lot more expensive than sugar water or simple syrup.

When you feed hummingbirds clear sugar water, it is similar to plant nectar and keeps them healthier.

It is still possible to use bright red to attract hummingbirds, just buy a hummingbird feeder with bright red flower shapes. You can then fill it with clear nectar.

Most home and garden stores make the hummingbird safe nectar or you can make your own.

H/T: Little Things

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