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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hummingbirds get here around the end of March. Will your nectar harm them?


Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Adding coloring to nectar is just an “urban legend”; it’s never been proven to be necessary.  According to Wildbird magazine, if nectar is dyed red, a typical Hummingbird (weighing just a few grams) takes in 10 times the amount of dye necessary to cause DNA damage, interfering with reproduction.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

High doses of Red #40 (the most popular dye) will also result in “significantly reduced reproductive success, parental and offspring weight” according to researchers. Plain nectar is what they need. Nothing more. 

Here in the north Texas, microscopic bits of mold (found in most food coloring) can multiply rapidly, ruining an entire batch of nectar and making the birds go elsewhere.

     Nowadays, almost all feeders are colorful enough all by themselves.  In truth, it’s not just red that attracts them.  It’s any bright color except green; (an adaptation that lets them spot nectar-producing flowers in a leafy jungle). 

          So please keep the nectar fresh and clear. They'll get to north Texas around the last week of March, so give them the nectar they want and need - to attract a healthy share to your yard.



OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton. 

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