Brown Sugar For Hummingbirds: Give It A Chance Or Run Away?

Last Updated on January 11, 2023 by Cristina

Is it safe and advisable to use brown sugar for hummingbirds? This article should clear up any confusion.

It is no secret that hummingbirds will always choose to come to those yards where they feel the safest and where they know there are plenty of feeders full of fresh nectar. After all, these are huge gluttons.

Since most of us would love to attract them to our yard, we decided to fill our feeders with a homemade mixture of water and sugar to mimic what these birds feed on in nature. However, can we use brown sugar for hummingbirds? Keep reading this article to clarify this issue once and for all.

What Does A Hummingbird’s Daily Menu Consist Of?

If you need to know anything about hummingbirds, it’s that they are always hungry. This shouldn’t surprise us, because, given the “machinery” inside their small bodies, they need to feed on different elements to maintain their speed and powerful wing sweep.

For ease of understanding, here is an example; on average these creatures flap their wings about 60-80 times every second. That’s right, you read that right, up to 80 times in just one second. This is exactly why these birds have to eat one meal every 15 to 20 minutes, just so they don’t starve to death, and to balance their energy consumption.

What Does A Hummingbird's Daily Menu Consist Of

As for their daily menu, it is quite varied and balanced. Just like us humans, these birds don’t like a boring, monotonous diet. Accordingly, in addition to consuming tree sap as well as floral nectar, which is mainly composed of sugar (disaccharide sucrose, the hexose monosaccharides glucose, and fructose), hummingbirds also need rich sources of protein to feed their hungry muscles. In order to meet their daily nutritional needs, i.e. to fulfill their protein content, these jewel-like creatures consume dozens to hundreds of different soft-bodied insects like mosquitoes, wasps, and crickets every day.

Finally, we mustn’t forget to mention perhaps one of the most valuable sources of food for these birds, which is the one made by the diligent hands of people, nectar in feeders. As many of you already know, such nectar can be bought at the store or made at home. Our personal advice is to always choose to make it with your own hands because that is the only way you will be 100% sure that you are giving them the best.

It is made from two basic kitchen ingredients, sugar, and water. However, what kind of sugar to use, is brown sugar for hummingbirds good or bad? Find out below.

Brown Sugar For Hummingbirds: Smart Choice Or Not?

As you may or may not know, sugar is obtained by processing sugar beet and sugar cane. Unlike classic white sugar, the brown one consists of crystalline sucrose combined with a small amount of molasses, which is ultimately responsible for its characteristic color as well as rich taste. It is usually reserved for baking, sweets, sauces, and on top of hot cereal.

Numerous recipes published here so far require the use of white, crystal sugar when preparing the divine solution, but what do the experts say about the use of brown sugar for hummingbirds?

In short, if you use this kind of sugar mix for hummingbirds, be aware that it instantly becomes rocket fuel for the yeasts that turn sugar into alcohol. Yes, you read that right, a few sips are enough to send hummingbirds stumbling around your yard visibly drunk, banging on window panes, breaking their beaks on wooden feeders, and dying of organ failure. Do you want it to happen to you? We assume the answer is no. Below, find out in more detail why it is not really wise to use brown sugar for hummingbirds.

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Brown Sugar For Hummingbirds

Can You Use Brown Sugar For Hummingbird Food?

In addition to the above-mentioned reason, which is more than obvious, read a few more important ones that will help you understand the scenario.

Brown sugar contains high iron content, and these birds cannot digest it so easily. Therefore, considering that digesting such food takes extra energy from them, it is not the smartest solution. All the extra iron they have taken into the body is retained in the liver, which damages the liver cells and eventually leads to the development of various diseases.

As we have already stated, brown sugar contains large amounts of molasses, which actually the same as the iron mentioned above, it is too heavy for hummingbirds to digest effectively. In addition, it ferments faster, which leads to the development of various fungal and mold diseases in their intestines.

After all, always remember that it is not a natural element. So, you will never see a hummingbird in nature feeding on brown sugar, right?

Check Out Do Hummingbirds Like Honeysuckle? Meet The Flower Of The Day

Can I Use Cane Sugar For Hummingbird Food?

No ornithologist, birder, or casual enthusiast who knows anything about these beautiful creatures would recommend that you use any other sugar instead of plain white sugar for homemade hummingbird food. Accordingly, avoid using honey, agave nectar, caster sugar, confectioners’ sugar, and cane sugar at all costs.

What Sugar To Use For Hummingbirds?

Given that these birds have a rather gentle metabolism, they are susceptible to various diseases that can lead to death. Therefore, we absolutely don’t recommend using brown sugar for hummingbirds. However, don’t let this stop you from filling your feeders regularly as white sugar is the perfect ingredient in a hummer’s diet. Choose that ordinary, table, refined sugar, or whatever you call it because it has the power to quickly provide them with the necessary energy to maintain normal metabolism.


To Conclude – Brown Sugar For Hummingbirds

Let’s summarize everything we learned today about brown sugar for hummingbirds, shall we? No expert or scientist will recommend you use it because it instantly becomes rocket fuel for the yeasts that convert sugar into alcohol. In addition, it is not natural, but it is therefore full of iron and contains large amounts of molasses.

However, don’t let that stop you from trying your hand at making your own sugar solution, use boiled water and refined white sugar, trust us, these beautiful jewel-like creatures will thrive and enjoy their lives with your lovingly prepared food.

Have questions? Tell us more below.

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