why did my hummingbird food clear up in 4 hours

I’ve got a hummingbird feeder that has been out there in the sun for about 2 months. The liquid food has been red until yesterday. I turned from red to clear in a short period of time…a few hours. Prior to that I never noticed any fading or gradual lightening of the color. It was red for weeks, then turned clear.
I don’t know for sure but I think its using FDA red dye #40, which is stable for most pH units, so I don’t think it is changing as a result of reaching some critical pH like other pH indicators I know about.

Any thoughts on why this occurred?
There didn’t seem to be any oddity in temp, light conditions or even lightening.

2 months? You’ve been changing it occasionally, right?

Have you eliminated the obvious stuff, like someone else replacing the nectar with undyed sugar water, or even just water? Did it rain recently?

Aside from the mystery, there’s not much harm being done – the red food coloring is unnecessary provided your feeder has some obvious coloration.

You should be changing the fluid in the feeder about twice a week especially if it’s in the sun.

Don’t bother with fancy red fluid. I just used water and plain old sugar. I clean out the feeder and put just about a pint of water in it. Then I add enough sugar so that the solution is nearly saturated. In other words, there’s still a few sugar crystals in the water that don’t dissolve right away. If you google it, there are more precise instructions.

Nope, no one has changed the solution under my nose. I watched it change color during the afternoon.

I haven’t replaced the solution; and will do so when I get home…as well as change it every week or so.

I know the hype about the dye in commercial blends as well as I can just use my own sugar water. This material was a gift, I wouldn’t actually spend real money on sugar water myself.

Four parts water to 1 part sugar. It’s just that easy. I usually heat the water in the microwave to make dissolving easy, then cool it in the fridge til needed.

And yes, it needs to be changed quite often when it’s warm, otherwise you get mold buildup.

Still no idea why it faded, though. About all I can think of is oxidation or UV rays. Although I suppose the build up of crud and mold inside the feeder could have resulted in some waste product that acted like bleach.

It’s fading after a couple of months! Chances are the hummingbirds aren’t paying any attention to it. On that basis alone, I would not be concerned.

Though it may be too late in the season, depending on where you live, try a new batch, but first clean the feeder really well.

We have been feeding hummers for about 20 years, and always use a solution of two parts boiled water to one part sugar. No dye! All they do then is take the solution with the dye back to their young. So no dye! It’s not necessary.
Oh, and before filling the feeder, make sure the solution has cooled down.

You still may attract some hummers. If you do put it up, you should make sure that you do this on a regular basis. That way they will continue to return each season.

Btw, we live in central British Columbia, and the hummers return to our town every year around April 22, give or take a couple of days. They are very predictable.

I’m kinda thinking this. Today was the day it reached critical mass.

Flower nectar is about 22% sucrose, so the feeding solution should be close to that – 4 parts water to 1 part white sugar. It should be boiled after mixing (but not long enough to make syrup). This kills any mold spores that may have been in the sugar, making it less likely that mold will quickly develop. And yes, the solution should be changed every few days, or even daily if it’s in direct sun.


This is the best feeder I’ve found:

classic red feeder.

It’s easy to clean, and like it’s been said, you have to make sure the feeders are cleaned and the nectar is fresh, and no dye is needed.

The little boogers will come and hover in front of your face if the level gets low, by the way. They ain’t shy.

I like that feeder. I also recommend an ant moat too keep the ants out of the feeder.


One of my hummingbirds gets into my face when I take the feeder down to clean and refill it.

LOL, I usually stand and count the seconds off when I hang a fresh one. Never have made it to even 10 seconds.

I have my hummingbird feeder hanging between 2 hanging flower baskets on my porch. I have been hanging and cleaning it religiously for 3 years and never seen a single hummer. :frowning:

In my backyard I have several seed feeders, suet feeders and bird baths. I get tons of different kinds of song birds and woodpeckers. But never a single hummingbird.

I don’t know if it applies in this case, but I’ve noticed that some red colorings aren’t particularly lightfast. I’ve had bumper stickers printed in red that faded to white, and if you leave an empty Coca-Cola can outside in the bright sunlight it will eventually turn gold.

Is it possible that the hummingbird feeder had been in the shade for several weeks, then when the angle of the sun changed it began getting direct sunlight?

The classic feeder linked to is what I’ve used for years. As said, easy to clean and fill with no wastage. I have to fill mine every day, sometimes twice.

Probably helps to have a large flower garden, and maybe neighbors with flower gardens as well, to create a critical mass. Hummingbirds seem to like to shop around rather than rely on a single source of nectar.