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Another Case Where Less Might Be More

Posted by terrepruitt on June 8, 2016

One day I was in the store and I decided to buy sugar.  I was in the Grocery Outlet.  Do you have those in your area?  Have you ever been to one?  My parents used to go and I wrinkled my nose at that, thinking it was a bunch of weird off-brand stuff.  Then one day I went in there and I discovered brand name stuff for about half the price as you find in regular grocery stores.  Granted most of the stuff in there is snack food and basically over-processed food, but we do eat bread and often times you can find it there for half the price as the other stores.  I had seen C&H Pure Cane sugar there before so I thought I would drop in and get some.  I mean, if I am going to buy what I consider to be less-than-healthy food, I might as well spend less.  Well, they didn’t have any and I didn’t want to go to another store, because really?  It’s sugar.  So I saw something that attracted my attention.  It was  Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar.  The package said that it was less processed than other sugar and it was organic so I thought I would give it a try.  I discovered something interesting about it.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitThis sugar is not white like C&H Pure Cane white sugar yet it is not brown either.  It is off white.  Well, when I used it I notice things in it.  What type of things, I don’t know.  They could be pieces of bugs or leaves.  They kind of look like pieces of leaves.  But it somewhat turned me off of using it.  I put it in my sugar container, but I would reach for some other sugar I had before I reached for it.

One day my husband told me to stop by the store to pick up sugar because he was going to make hummingbird food, I said we have sugar.  I actually thought I had seen another bag of white sugar in the closet, but when I got home and looked all we had was the Zulka Morena.  It is used like regular sugar.  It is “regular” sugar it is just processed less.  So I talked him into using it.  He didn’t want to.**updated 04.29.18

Well, he made the food and it came out kinda tan.  It was not clear/white like when we use our familiar white sugar.  It wasn’t cloudy, it was just colored.  I was kind of concerned, thinking perhaps it wouldn’t be good for the birds.  I wondered if they would care.  I wondered if they would notice a difference.  I wondered if they would like it.

The reason I had him make the food (he is the hummingbird food maker in the house so when it is needed, he makes it) was because I had seen some hummingbirds flitting around the empty feeders.  So I was thinking when he put full ones up they would be there.  But there were not. I was worried.  I thought that the food must not be good.  I thought they didn’t like it.  Usually, when we see them at the feeders and we put food out they are right there!  But they weren’t.

I am gonna say it took at least a week for them to come.  But then, it seemed like when I looked out the window, they were always there.  But oddly enough, they were only at one feeder.  Usually they will eat off of both.  One more than the other, but both.  This time – I had seen them at the other feeder once or twice, but they actually emptied one out before they used the other.  So that means that the unused one was there for even longer than the first one.

Our feeders are in the sun.  SUN.  Sometimes the bottles start to have stuff grow in them.  This isn’t good for the birds.  So it is a drag when that happens.  And sometimes it can happen fast.  I mentioned the sun because I figure that the sun is a contributing factor to the growth in the bottles.  It could be the shade.  Either way, sometimes it happens really fast.

You may or may not know that hummingbirds don’t suck the nectar out of the feeders.  Their beaks are not straws.  I had thought that until I saw one stick its tongue out.  So they actually stick their tongue into the feeder.  I believe that the way they eat helps contribute to the stuff growing in the bottles.  So a busy feeder with a few hot days stuff can grow pretty fast.

Well, it is my opinion – I don’t think my hubby agrees with me – that this sugar does not grow stuff as fast.  We had the bottles out there a long time and there wasn’t the weird stringy black stuff that has seen to pop up really fast in the feeders in the batches we made before these last ones.  I think it is cool.

I just cleaned the feeders and my hubby is going to come home and make food tonight.  So we will have them up again by tomorrow.  I am going to watch them again closely and see.  I know there are many things that can contribute to the stuff growing in them, but it seems our last few batches have gotten it awful fast.  So we will see how this new batch fares.

At least the birds seem to like the sugar.  They don’t care about the color.  Who cares that it is not clear, as long as it is not red (the red dye is not good for the birds).

Do you feed the hummingbirds?  Do you have hummingbird feeders?  What type of sugar do you use? What is your recipe?  What type of sugar do you use?

**updated 04.29.18 – please see comments below, as this type of sugar has traces of iron in it and hummingbirds have a low tolerance to iron.

19 Responses to “Another Case Where Less Might Be More”

  1. Trinity said

    So is it okay to use the morena sugar to feed hummingbirds?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so. It is just sugar, just less processed. I think they can’t have honey. And it is best to not dye the mixture. Do you have hummingbird feeders?


    • Elizabeth Jeffreys said

      Unrefined sugar, including zulka morena, is dangerous for hummingbirds because of the iron content. White sugar that is fully refined (do not use powdered sugar because of added anti-caking agents) has the iron removed and is safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cool – your info. Thanks. I was excited about that sugar because I was able to find it, it seemed cheaper than white sugar, and it seemed “better” for us. But then it stopped being available and when I did find it was WAY more expensive than C&H so I stopped buying it. So I stopped using it. But thank you so much for the education.

        The iron is what might give the morena it’s tint, yes?

        Thanks, again!


        • Diane Greer said

          Morena Pure Can Sugar is not organic. It’s sold as natural, certified clean, no gmo (I like that). C&H white sugar is refined so I won’t use Morena for my feather friends again. Thank you for this post.


      • Cinda said

        The ingredients list doesn’t list iron??


        • Ingredient list don’t necessarily contain ALL the ingredients that are contained in each ingredient in the package. And what she is saying is that this sugar has trace iron in it. But even trace amounts of something maybe too much for a hummingbird to process. So, no, the list of ingredients is “100% pure cane sugar”. I actually don’t think I bought this sugar again because I couldn’t find it at the store.


  2. This site just says to not use ” turbinado or brown sugar etc”

    This site says “Brown or even brownish sugar.” and talks about why (how the color is partially from the iron ” which nectarivorous and frugivorous birds” can’t tolerate. And she even sites a source.


  3. volcomized said

    Glad I came across this. Found a great price of it because the orioles have been crazy drinking the feeder water but wasn’t too sure it was okay for the hummingbirds since it didn’t say “granulated” sugar and looks more like sugar in the raw. I think it better to stick with C&H.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess the birds need MORE processed and refined sugar . . . who’d have thought. 🙂

      We get orioles, too. They just arrived earlier this month! I have to pop the yellow flowers off of the hummingbird feeders otherwise they do it themselves!


  4. I came to this blog post because I put this Morena sugar in my hummingbird feeder this past 8 days, not realizing it had Trace iron in it that could be harmful to my birds. For two months now, I have two regulars, a male and a female that both come several times an hour. The past few days, nothing. I have not heard the sound of their familiar Wings buzzing outside my windows nor their cheerful little cheeps as they visit the feeder. Would being exposed to this sugar for a week be enough to sicken them or even kill them? I feel so horrible now. I have been sitting out waiting for them all evening after putting the regular old white refined sugar back in and so far, nothing. I’m just worried sick!


    • Awww. I have no idea. I know that when I used it our birds kept coming back. It is difficult to identify them, I think when you have a lot, but then there are some that you know are the same birds. Hummingbirds are susceptible to so many things because they are small it could be anything. Wiki says: “Hummingbird kidneys also have a unique ability to control the levels of electrolytes after consuming nectars with high amounts of sodium and chloride or none, indicating that kidney and glomerular structures must be highly specialized for variations in nectar mineral quality.[43] Morphological studies on Anna’s hummingbird kidneys showed adaptations of high capillary density in close proximity to nephrons, allowing for precise regulation of water and electrolytes.” So even though iron is not good for them, it sounds like they have very adaptable kidneys. Do you have other birds around? I know the orioles that are hanging in our yard are keeping the large number of hummingbirds away. I am sorry you are worried about your little friends. They really are so sweet and fun to watch.


      • Thank you, after not appearing for their regular long drinks at Sunset last night, I was so devastated but I am happy to report at least the female was at the feeder this morning! Now I know not to use the organic sugars. Funny how counterintuitive that is to many of us these days! These hummers are the highlight of the summer for me!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary said

    Organic sugar is fine!! This is an internet myth! Read this analysis of the one paper (published 15 yrs ago) that was based on a commercial food that was bad: https://joybileefarm.com/organic-sugar-hummingbirds/
    Of course organic is better! No glysophosphate.
    Please spread the word.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I will have to read this more closely later. But it starts out saying “organic white sugar”. The morena isn’t white, but does the article just mean “white” (as in not brown sugar).


  6. Jeff Blankfort said

    We have had exactly the same problem with the hummingbirds boycotting the feeder in which we used the Morena sugar when C&H was sold out. It is two days now with no visitors. This thread has been very helpful. Thanks for initiating it,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, smart hummingbirds. Our hummingbirds ate it just fine. Hopefully that was not all they were eating and it didn’t damage there organs. I hope you are able to find good ol’ C&H again!


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