Should I use red food coloring in hummingbird food?

April 1, 2009
Though hummingbirds are attracted to the color of red, there is no need to color their nectar red. Photo by Bob Vuxinic via Birdshare. Though hummingbirds are attracted to the color of red, there is no need to color their nectar red. Photo by Bob Vuxinic via Birdshare.
New self-paced course: Learn How to Identify Bird Songs, Click to Learn More

There is absolutely no reason to add any red dyes to hummingbird sugar water. After all, natural flower nectar is clear, and hummingbird feeders have colorful parts that attract hummingbird regardless of the color of the sugar water.

Sheri Williamson of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO), and author of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds and Attracting and Feeding Hummingbirds, writes, “The bottom line is that ‘instant nectar’ products containing artificial coloring are at best a waste of your hard-earned money and at worst a source of disease, suffering, and premature death in hummingbirds.”

Comments

  • Mikal Deese

    As a federally permitted wild bird rehabilitator, I have been brought orphaned hummer nestlings that have had so much red dye that it can be seen in the skin and feathers. Please do not use red dyes or commercial products with red dyes!