Please, use only white sugar

12 years ago

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."


"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, 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?

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