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Sterility of Nectar

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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 21:33   #1
Beach Bum
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Sterility of Nectar

How sterile is the nectar hummers get from various flowers versus what they get from our feeders? Has any university ever studied this?
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Old Wednesday 15th May 2019, 18:17   #2
nartreb
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Neither is sterile. I would guess that most flowers are a bit "cleaner" than an average feeder, since most plants that hummingbirds visit only produce nectar for a few days in each flower, whereas a feeder might get a haphazard cleaning every couple of weeks.

When nectar goes bad, hummingbirds won't drink it. That can take a little while: the sheer concentration of sugar makes it a difficult environment for many bacteria/fungi/etc. But sooner or later you'll see and/or smell some changes.
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 01:08   #3
SoCalHummerLady
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I'd guess flower nectar is a bit cleaner, simply because hummers will drain a flower of its juice and then it will produce new nectar. And, as Nartreb pointed out, flowers only exist for a short time.
With feeders, every bird that visits is injecting a little of its own mouth bacteria into the nectar: which is why it's so important to keep the feeders clean and refill frequently.
To avoid wasting nectar in my feeders, I monitor how much they are going through in a maximum 3-day period and only put in that amount of nectar. In summer and fall, I put in a lot more because there are so many more birds and they go through it much faster. Sometimes they will empty a full feeder in a single day in summer/fall.
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