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
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. But their is now proof that the white sugar and water syrup mixture people offer Hummingbirds causes diabetes or any other health issue.
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 keeping their feeders clean and serving fresh syrup as often as necessary according to the weather, then there are no health issues. This mixture closely matches the nectar found in many wild flowers.
The strength of the syrup can be made weaker or stronger, depending on what time of year it is and the activity of the birds. You can learn how to make it here.
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.
But Hummers are active all day and eat a variety of foods.
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.
Honey, corn syrup and manmade sweeteners should never be used to feed Hummingbirds.
Honey 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.