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Can I Feed Organic Sugar to Hummingbirds? (1 Viewer)

SteveCooke

bird nerd
Hi all, I have been researching sugar all day and I came across this article by Joybilee Farm, which posits that the anti-orgianic-sugar sentiment is based on a myth. It says that both organic white sugar and organic raw sugar are in fact good to use as they contain little iron and contain no pesticide residue.

Was curious what others consensus was on this article? Would you use organic white sugar or organic raw sugar?

Thank you, Steve
 
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jmepler

It's just a flesh wound.
I can't see why organic white sugar should be a problem. It is just white sugar produced from organic stock.

I would avoid raw sugar, organic or otherwise, due to the iron content. Better safe than sorry in my opinion.
 

SteveCooke

bird nerd
I can't see why organic white sugar should be a problem. It is just white sugar produced from organic stock.

I would avoid raw sugar, organic or otherwise, due to the iron content. Better safe than sorry in my opinion.

Thanks for your input! She makes the point though, that the zoo who did the study responsible for the iron scare was successful in caring for birds for a number of decades with a food that contained 40mg/1kg of iron. It was a change of the recipe that resulted in 800mg/1kg of iron that led to the poisoning.

She says the iron content of raw sugar is in fact very low and very safe (containing 3.7mg/1kg of iron, just 10% of the zoo's successful supplement). It seems to me organic raw sugar would be better for the birds and the environment.

Am I wrong here? Thanks o:)
 

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jmepler

It's just a flesh wound.
Thanks for your input! She makes the point though, that the zoo who did the study responsible for the iron scare was successful in caring for birds for a number of decades with a food that contained 40mg/1kg of iron. It was a change of the recipe that resulted in 800mg/1kg of iron that led to the poisoning.

She says the iron content of raw sugar is in fact very low and very safe (containing 3.7mg/1kg of iron, just 10% of the zoo's successful supplement). It seems to me organic raw sugar would be better for the birds and the environment.

Am I wrong here? Thanks o:)

Raw sugar will be no better for the birds, but could potentially be worse.

All the experts recommend white sugar, preferable cane sugar. I would take their advice over the advice of one person.

If you are still against using white cane sugar, and want to provide an environmentally friendly meal for the hummingbirds, I would suggest planting a flower garden.
 

SteveCooke

bird nerd
Raw sugar will be no better for the birds, but could potentially be worse.

All the experts recommend white sugar, preferable cane sugar. I would take their advice over the advice of one person.

If you are still against using white cane sugar, and want to provide an environmentally friendly meal for the hummingbirds, I would suggest planting a flower garden.

Which experts? What's the argument against raw sugar, and where is the data to support it?

Thanks :)
 
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jean_wright

hobbyist
Thanks for your input! She makes the point though, that the zoo who did the study responsible for the iron scare was successful in caring for birds for a number of decades with a food that contained 40mg/1kg of iron. It was a change of the recipe that resulted in 800mg/1kg of iron that led to the poisoning.

She says the iron content of raw sugar is in fact very low and very safe (containing 3.7mg/1kg of iron, just 10% of the zoo's successful supplement). It seems to me organic raw sugar would be better for the birds and the environment.

Am I wrong here? Thanks o:)

Sorry for interrupting as it's not an actual proof, still:

Unrefined sugar from sugar cane has iron, mineral salts and other minerals that are not present in white granulated sugar (only sucrose) nor in natural flower nectar.

While a better choice for humans, the added minerals in unrefined sugar may have an adverse affect on hummingbirds.

Brown sugar has molasses added to it which also contains iron and other minerals. Plain, white granulated sugar is best for making your hummingbird solution.
- source

So it's not only iron that could do the harm.
Also here you can read some arguments from Lanny Chambers, who is hummingbird expert.
Hope this helps.
 
Hmm, I used organic raw sugar for awhile, but have switched back to white cane sugar. it's scary that we could be hurting our Hummers.
 

Zanne 123

New member
United States
So is it safe to use organic cane sugar? Wouldn't the lack of pesticide and herbicide be a benefit? Also, in many parts of Maryland, well water that comes from the tap is very high in iron. It discolors white laundry and leaves a rust colored residue in toilets and showers. So are all of those people harming hummers by using that water to make nectar? I used to be one of them years ago
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
I'm very much an organics fan, but very much doubt the garden variety sugar is any threat.
Afaik, in commercial processing, the raw sugar is dissolved in water and passed over activated charcoal, which adsorbs pretty much all foreign substances..
Do note that hummers live fast and die young, 5 years is quite mature for a hummer, three or four years is the norm.
Hard to slow poison something that lives so fast.
 

jmepler

It's just a flesh wound.
I'm very much an organics fan, but very much doubt the garden variety sugar is any threat.
Afaik, in commercial processing, the raw sugar is dissolved in water and passed over activated charcoal, which adsorbs pretty much all foreign substances..
Do note that hummers live fast and die young, 5 years is quite mature for a hummer, three or four years is the norm.
Hard to slow poison something that lives so fast.

You need to be aware that hummingbird eat a lot. They eat between 1.5 and 3 times their body weight in nectar every day. If I ate as much as a hummingbird I would be consuming nearly a railroad tank car full of nectar every year. This is why even seemingly low levels of certain chemicals in hummingbird nectar can quickly build to toxic levels.

I cannot fathom why some people insist on using types of sugar that may be unsafe when we are certain that white cane sugar is safe. To say that it's better because it's natural, and that the hummingbirds love it, is sticking your head in the sand. I am sure that the 25 dead hummingbirds at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum hummingbird aviary loved the nectar that they were getting, right up to the point where they died from iron toxicosis. Since most of us aren't feeding hummingbirds in an aviary we would have no idea if the nectar that we are using is leading to premature death of the birds. Ignorance is bliss.

You can read an expert opinion on the various types of sugar here.
 

Aguilar8ngelica

New member
United States
I use only organics white cane sugar with bottled spring water. I mix the 1/2 cup of sugar with 2 cups of room temp bottle spring water and mix until i cant see any more granules of sugar. Then i clean out my feeder with hot water and wipe it down well before filling with my sugar/water mixture. I get visitors of hummingbirds multiple X a day. I change the feeder every 4-5 days. I clean it throughly again before putting a fresh batch of sugar water mix to make sure no mold bugs etc grow. I also put it where the sun does not hit so it stays cool and prevents mold growth. I read a lot online about the feeders before taking it upon myself to feed the little guys because I dont want to be responsible for killing the most beautiful creatures God has made. Please be responsible if its too much work for you just grow some red flowers that hummingbirds like to feed on for nectar. Find out which ones by looking them up online. Goodluck♥️
 

Aguilar8ngelica

New member
United States
The recommendation for the type of water to use is filtered water or natural spring water. The REcommendation for the type of sugar is regular cane sugar preferably organic. But make sure it isn't raw or brown/beige-colored cane sugar because it can contain iron and can hurt the birds over time while eventually killing them.
 

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