Hummingbird Feeder Food

by Clare Taylor
(Conrwall, UK)


What Health Problems Does Hummingbird Nectar Cause?

Following a recent trip to Costa Rica we learned that the growth of use of sugar water in hummingbird feeders is leading to a form of diabetes in hummingbirds, plus negatively affecting the pollination of plant species reliant on these birds, or the mites they carry in their nostrils.

Plus the crystallisation of sugar on the beak and nostrils can cause problems.

Do you have any advice for people purchasing the hummer feeders on your website?

I did wonder if a honey solution might be a better option?

This is a message from the UK where I regret we do not have these glorious avians but we first encountered them at a friend's house on Vancouver Island, where a feeder was in use.


Real Health Concerns are Not the Ones You Suggest

Hi Clare

Thank you for your query.

I will answer your concerns as best I can. I would be interested to know where you received your information.

I have read extensively about Hummingbirds and have had 30 years of personal experience feeding these amazing little birds, but have never observed any of the health issues you describe.

From time to time I have heard some concern expressed as you have over feeding white sugar syrup to them. Usually this begins with a concern over our own health issues and extrapolating that to Hummingbirds.

Hopefully these facts will help to calm concerns:

  • Hummingbirds do not feed exclusively from human provided feeders.They have many natural sources that they feed from such as wild flowers and insects. They move from natural feeding station to another natural feeding station throughout the day intermingled with human provided feeders.

    The term feeding station is used here meaning natural plant life and human provided hummingbird feeders. A Hummingbird will visit hundreds of flowers a day, whether there is a human provided feeding station or not.

    They are also consuming a large quantity of bugs in their daily quest to feed themselves. They require an enormous amount of energy to keep up their busy lives.

  • If people are responsible in making their syrup ratio properly, 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, then they are not putting the Hummers at risk for developing diabetes. This mixture closely matches the nectar found in many wild flowers. You can learn how to make it here. It needs to be mixed in proper proportions or risk harming these little birds. More than a 1 part sugar ratio can cause kidney damage which has been documented in scientific study.

    The difference between us and Hummingbirds is activity level. It is our relatively sedentary, stressful life style that has created the current rise of diabetes in humans.

  • The Hummers we feed flit back and forth from the flowers on our deck and garden to the syrup feeders all day long. And I'm quite sure they are visiting other plants in the area when they are not in our yard. This activity level from plant to plant is also ensuring the pollination of the affected species.

  • As for the crystallization of sugar on the birds themselves... I would definitely need to see some factual information about this.

    The birds are very active and for sugar crystals to form would mean the syrup had to sit on the bird for sometime allowing the water to evaporate, leaving the crystals behind.

    Also the proper solution that is used to feed Hummers is very weak and very unlikely to cause this to happen.

  • Honey is a big concern for Hummingbirds and should never be used in a hummingbird feeder.

    It causes a fungus to grow in their mouths, which has been documented, and is always fatal.

    Thank you for sharing your questions and I hope this helps to relieve some of your concerns. Again I would appreciate knowing what your sources are.

    Happy birding!

    More Interesting Facts on Hummer Feeders!

    Good selection of Hummingbird feeders here.

    Hummingbird Plants and Feeder Location They should be placed first and foremost where they can be viewed and bird watching enjoyed most! This will take some planning.

    Cleaning Hummingbird Feeders The little Hummingbird is a feisty and fussy diner! If a good maintenance regimen is followed, bird watching in your backyard will be more rewarding.

    > > What Health Problems Does Hummingbird Nectar Cause?

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by: Anonymous

Wow I had no idea that birds could be susceptable to a disease like that. Thanks for clarifying the correct portions to use. Been thinking about getting a feeder myself and seeing that you seem to be the go-to for all things hummingbird, do you have a favorite feeder? I've read a lot of great reviews about Perky Pet's new top fill models, they certainly seem to be the easiest to maintain. Any thoughts?

Perky Pet Is a Good Choice
by: Judy - Site Owner

Perky Pet products are a good choice. They have thoughtful design elements and are reasonably priced.

When purchasing a Hummingbird feeder ease of cleaning is always an important consideration,as it may be necessary to clean it out often in the hot weather.

Enjoy your little friends!

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