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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Durned if you do.

I am a lover of all things bird.  Crows, ravens, starlings, sparrows, chickens, Guinea hens (so far), emus; but - most especially - hummingbirds.  They are miracles.  They are true shining gems.  I cannot get enough of them.  And, apparently, I am killing them. 

Good grief.  I have been going merrily along, using my red nectar concentrate in my two feeders.  Then I get the news:  studies have found that red food coloring can damage their hard-working little hearts!  As soon as I got home yesterday, I went out and retrieved both feeders and emptied them in my compost heap.  Of course, as soon as I did that, I regretted it.  Would some other critter think there's a great sweet snack in there and more damage would be done?

Of course, you may think I am being a little coy about this -- since I seem to think nothing of vanquishing rats and hornets by any means at my disposal.  I have a startling announcement:  I am not perfect.  There.  It's out.  I choose to group all things living into two (three) categories -- One:  Everything/One I Love.  Two:  Those Few Things/Ones I Hate.  Three:  Those Things/Ones I Fear.  I am not apologizing for my wishy-washy-ness.  I have enough trouble dealing with my recycling - and the onus of 'stuff' and 'too much stuff'. 

Ooookay.  Back to the subject.  I thoroughly cleaned both feeders and put some simple syrup (extra light that I had made to can peaches) in them and trotted them outside.  Then I worried that they would be too cold, as it had been stored in the fridge, so I brought them back in the house and let them sit on the counter until they reached room temperature.  (Swatting a few flies in the process - Flies fall under Category Two).  Then I decided that the older one wasn't bright enough (how could they FIND it?), so I hunted up a vibrant red ribbon (hoping that the dye wouldn't run off and into the feeder if it rained - lord help me), tied it on and put them back on their outside hangers.

Glinda (okay - it's a male Ruby-Throated Hummer, but the name has stuck) found the glammed-up old one and took a sip.  He didn't fall from the sky.

I hope I can sleep after all this angst.

21 comments:

  1. I think YOU need to indulge in a cool, red libation my dearest.

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  2. Oh my, this is something I might have done! Glad Glinda is OK.

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    1. Welcome, DFW! I just zipped over to your blog - I love it and will be a regular reader.

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  3. I never know that .We have two feeders. They will be changed out.

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    1. I tell you, it's hard to keep up on all this - although I should have known about the red dye stuff.

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  4. funny. I never did use food coloring...but all my hummers disappeared. We live in an avian fly zone so we get everything passing thru, even trumpeter swans. I am like the motel 6. They come, eat, and leave. At least now i know they didn't come, eat and die! :)

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    1. I am so glad to see I didn't kill off Glinda (at least). I get so much enjoyment out of watching them - and having them whiz by my head while I'm gardening.

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  5. I had a feeder with a red top and would make a sugar/water concentrate....they came back year and year and were there when I left.

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    1. And you somehow never imparted this wisdom to me while you were here????

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  6. My step-mother never used red dye. She just mixes up a clear sugar water solution and pours it in her feeders - one feeder has a red bottom and the other is glass and copper. The birds drain each feeder a couple of times a day.

    If anyone is missing birds this year, my dad told me that the early spring storms blew a lot of migrating birds off course. They may be elsewhere this year and probably haven't died from red dye overdose :)

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    1. Well, that's a relief. I was starting to feel like Typhoid Mary.

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  7. I'm glad you changed out the red stuff in favor of something more natural. I have even given up M&M's and H.V. Ranch Dressing because of the artificial colors, and neither one was easy! LOL!!

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    1. Candy, wouldn't you think that I would make the connection without having to read it? Hopefully, not too much damage has been done.

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  8. Susan, not to worry, I suspect the tossed red dye sugar water will be consumed by ants who likely thrive on it. ;-)
    Here's another tip for you. I planted monarda last year or beebalm as some call it, and the hummingbirds are nuts over the stuff. Every morning I dodge the little guys and gals when walking through the garden where monarda are planted, especially the red variety Jacob Kline: http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantdetail&plant_id=63

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    1. Tom, yes, THEM - ;7) I will check the monarda and see how it will do in my zone. I had planted beebalm but it was eaten by something/someone. My plan for 2013 is to work on a pollinator garden. Thank you for the information!

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    2. Was that a trick question? :-} The monarda/bee balm that I had planted (and that was eaten - if not by deer, then what??) was the red variety. I will have to just plant more!

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  9. Don't worry too much, yes the migration is off a bit I heard... I usually have 7-8 hummers every morning and I have never even had a feeder I just plant for them, but I've only seen a couple this year, very odd. Another thought though... you need an armadillo feeder with dangerous dye LOL

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  10. Oh, by far their favorites here seem to be my sages and a few are perennial for you so give them a try!

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  11. Also, you should never wash out hummingbird feeders with soap. If there's even a smidgen of it left, it can kill them, too! (I know, I know - SO much to remember!) Bird experts recommend washing with vinegar and water. Ever since I heard that, I've been using that combo . . . and for cleaning up after the dogs & cats, too, once I learned that you shouldn't use Pine-Sol around the four-leggeds (ESP. cats)!

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  12. I had no idea about the red food coloring for Hummingbirds. I love to watch them. So amazing indeed. I will not put that stuff out again! Thanks!

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