News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2006


Hummingbird nectar tastes ‘nasty’

With four children foraging through the house, the refrigerator door is always open.

No food or drink — even food for hummingbirds — is safe from the feeding frenzy.

I don't know how it tastes, but store-bought hummingbird nectar looks a lot like a nice Hawaiian Punch, which could explain what happened recently.

The spring showers this year meant a good crop of wildflowers in our backyard and we kept getting buzzed by hummers (the kind that can't get enough nectar, not the kind that can't get enough gasoline).

With a parched summer under way, we decided to supplement the tiny birds' diet with the artificial stuff.

"I hope nobody mistakes this for something to drink," my wife Jenny said, after we loaded the bird feeder and poured the leftovers into a pitcher.

The next day our daughter Addi, 13, called on the cell phone.

"I'm mad at you!" she said, with the usual drama.

Addi said hummingbird nectar tastes nasty.

She is bright and makes good grades, but sometimes we wonder about that girl. Anyone could mistake hummingbird food for fruit punch, but why did she drink two glasses?

Maybe she was trying to develop a taste for it, like people do with coffee. Or maybe she wanted to drink it before Caleb, Henry or Evie beat her to it.

Worried about adverse effects, we checked the label to make sure the ingredients were safe for teenage consumption. We learned that Addi quenched her thirst with sucrose, tartaric acid, sodium benzoate and artificial food color, which sounds healthier than the average diet soda.

Tartaric acid, found in grapes, gives a sour taste. Apparently it appeals more to hummingbirds than to teenagers.

Although the ingredients appeared safe to consume, we decided to observe Addi for any sign of problems.

She flitted about and talked non-stop, so we knew everything was normal.

In a tip worthy of Heloise, we cut out the box top from the hummingbird nectar and taped it to the top of the pitcher to prevent any further mix-ups.

We also placed a one-serving limit on Addi so the poor hummingbirds will have something to drink.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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