To the editor:
The recent article about a new "nectar" product for hummingbird feeders
contained incorrect and misleading information that has needlessly alarmed many hummingbird enthusiasts in southern Arizona.
We want to assure the Star's readers that homemade solutions of white granulated sugar in water have a decades-long track record as a safe and effective way to attract and feed hummingbirds. Wild hummingbirds that have fed on sugar water every summer of their lives have lived up to 12 years, far longer than was once thought possible, so white sugar is hardly "cutting their lives short." It does not "wear out their livers and kidneys," give them diabetes, or rot their teeth.
White granulated sugar is sucrose, a natural plant sugar that is the main ingredient (next to water) in the nectar of hummingbird-pollinated flowers. It is also the main ingredient in the product touted in the article, despite the entrepreneurs' dire warnings about "the harmful effects of white sugar on hummingbirds."
Cleaning feeders regularly, eliminating outdoor pesticide use, keeping cats indoors, and planting nectar-producing flowers are the most important steps you can take to make sure your hummingbird neighbors live long, healthy lives.
Sheri L. Williamson
Director, Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory
Author, Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds