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Is It Okay to Make Hummingbird Food with Brown Sugar?

A hummingbird eats at a feeder.
Jay Gao/Shutterstock.com

Summer is finally upon us, and that means the hummingbirds will soon be visiting again. Maybe they’ve already started to show up where you live! And hummingbirds eat…a lot. They can consume half their body weight in bugs and nectar, but if you want to help by making food you need to know how.

Most people make DIY hummingbird food by dissolving sugar into some water and pouring it into a feeder. But, can you make hummingbird food with brown sugar? In short, no.

Brown sugar is nothing more than white sugar with molasses added. So, while it might not seem like a big deal to give it to your hummers, you have to consider the nutritional content of molasses. In addition to being sticky and sweet, molasses has high iron levels. That’s good for people and can be part of a healthy diet, but it’s bad for hummingbirds.

Plastic Hummingbird Feeders for Outdoors

Make sure you're feeding your hummingbirds a safe solution of white sugar and water.

Too much iron can be toxic to hummingbirds. Since there’s no way to know that exact “amount” when you’re diluting it with water, it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid using brown sugar completely in your hummingbird feeder.

The good news? White sugar is perfectly safe to use. And, if you don’t want to take the time to make your own nectar, there are plenty of commercial brands available. Just make sure to look for products that are as natural as possible and ones that steer clear of using red dyes.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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