[birdky] Maybe my kind of sugar not the best for hummers.....
- From: Ce Ci <thefarsidefarm@xxxxxxxxx>
- To: BirdKY <birdky@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2012 04:30:54 -0700 (PDT)
Even though the hummingbirds definitely prefer the organic "raw" sugar I buy from food co-op, it may not be the best to feed the birds - two excerpts follow - thanks to Katharine Cohen for alerting me to these considerations. Now, not sure what to do..... Excerpted from http://www.hummingbirds.net/feeders.html - The sugar water we use to fill hummingbird feeders is only a supplement to the birds' natural diet. It's not necessary to buy a commercial "nectar" mix that includes additional vitamins, protein, or other substances, because the birds get all they need from the flower nectar and insects they consume. All they want from us is the quick energy they get from ordinary white cane sugar. It's just fuel for chasing bugs, and causes no known health problems in hummingbirds, whose metabolism is significantly different from humans'. 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. What about beet sugar? I have read anecdotal evidence that hummingbirds can taste the difference between cane and beet sugars, and at least sometimes will reject beet sugar completely. If you can't seem to attract hummers and are using white sugar that's not specifically labeled as cane, try changing to a brand that is. 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. Excerpted from - http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/hummingbird/msg0412421720247.htmlPlease, use only white sugar Posted by ctnchpr (My Page) on Fri, Apr 3, 09 at 12:42 This subject comes up at least once each season, and since some members have mentioned using organic sugar, we need to address it before any hummers are harmed. These quotes are from 2 men who know at least 10 times more about hummers than all of us combined. The first 2 are from Lanny Chambers, the gentleman who hosts and updates the Ruby-throated hummingbird Migration Map: "White sugar is the only syrup that has been tested extensively for safety as a hummingbird food supplement, as far as I know. Hummingbird metabolism is radically different from that of humans (or of other birds, for that matter). It's a mistake to assume otherwise, and a compounded mistake to apply unproven theories of human metabolism to hummingbirds. It's unethical to perform uncontrolled experiments on wild animal populations." ...and... "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 the molasses and other non-sugar components. The results 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 amount of iron can POISON them. If you have the choice, use only white sugar in hummingbird feeders." The emphasis on POISON is mine, not Mr. Chambers'. The first quote can be found at http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/HUMNETf/feedersugar.html, and the second one can be found at the same website as the Migration map. And this from Bob Sargent, a hummingbird researcher/bander/author/lecturer, can also be found at the lsu/HUMNET site: "I feel compelled to comment on this "health-food" approach to feeding hummers...If you are into the health food scene, that is great. This is not an attack on those that enjoy that lifestyle. The trick is to separate what you want for yourself and what sugar is found in the flowers that hummers seem to prefer. That sugar form is primarily sucrose, pretty much the same as our plain old table sugar." Pure, white, refined, granulated table sugar is best for our hummers, and is the cheapest form of sugar. Why use anything else? Excerpted From: Katharine Cohen <kwcoh@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> I have been out of town and have not read all of the comments re hummingbird sugar. But I wanted to warn you about something re organic sugar. I attended a seminar on hummingbirds last summer sponsored by the Tucson (AZ) Audubon Society. The presenter was Sherri Williamson, who has been working with hummers for many years. She informed us that while hummers may seem to prefer one nectar over another, the nectar made from organic sugar could actually do GREAT harm to the hummers because it contains too much iron, and it builds up dangerously in the hummers, who can't metabolize it like we do. I found a web site that you might want to check that backs up this idea. It might be a good idea to reconsider the organic route in the case of your hummers. http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/hummingbird/msg0412421720247.html I think it's wonderful that you are so generous and I am sure your hummers will switch back quite happily to regular sugar, if you agree with the research that it would be in their best interest to switch. Thanks for your time, Kathy -----Original Message----- > >I thought I'd share with everyone the results of an experiment I had last year >when I could determine that 100% of the time, my hummingbirds preferred the >feeders with organic, raw, unbleached(?), granulated sugar much more than the >regular white granulated sugar "common" sugar. I now only feed organic sugar >- available in health food stores and most groceries in the health food >section (or from local natural food cooperatives). >Note - not brown sugar, although the raw organic sugar does have a >brownish/golden coloration. > >Ceci Mitchell >The Far Side Farm >Franklin County KY ================NOTES TO SUBSCRIBERS============== When posting on BIRDKY, please close posts with your first and last name and your address (city or county). * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * To post on BIRDKY, send e-mail to: birdky@xxxxxxxxxxxxx * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Visit the KOS website at http://www.biology.eku.edu/kos/default.htm * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Visit the KOS Photo Page to view photos of birds recently sighted in Kentucky: http://www.flickr.com/groups/kentucky_ornithological_society/pool * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * To unsubscribe, send e-mail to: birdky-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject line. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * BIRDKY List Manager: Gary Ritchison. 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