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It is common among many homeowners and bird enthusiasts alike to provide supplemental nutrition for Hummingbirds through nectar feeder set-ups. Often commercially available nectar powders and concentrates contain a variety of red dyes solely to make the nectar look more appealing for the customer. Based on the lack of information regarding the safety of the dyes for the birds, investigation into how FD&C red #40 (the most common red dye) degrades in a sucrose solution exposed to sunlight is warranted. Ultra High Pressure Liquid Chromatography and mass spectrometry were used to identify the chemical structure of FD&C Red #40 and determine ideal ppm concentrations for best analysis of potential metabolites. Ultimately, degradation of dye in the presence of controlled artificial sunlight in a sucrose solution (~25% sucrose) and subsequent analysis will help to determine the degraded metabolites that arise and gain insight into their potential harm to hummingbirds.

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Photodegradation of FD&C Red No. 40 Dye in Synthetic Hummingbird Nectar