Madison, Wisconsin

Bob & Jan Ross

Bob & Jan Ross

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Madison, Wisconsin

8402 Old Sauk Road
Madison, WI 53562

Phone: (608) 664-1414
Fax: (608) 664-1416
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Fri: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Location: We are located just West of the Beltline exit to Old Sauk Road about 1.5 blocks, just west one store after the Walgreens on your right, at the intersection of Old Sauk Road and Junction Road.

Map This Location

Nectar Defender By Sapphire Labs


For years, we have told customers that it's unnecessary to add anything to hummingbird nectar solution so it's understandable when they have questions about the safety of Sapphire Labs Nectar Defender. To answer these concerns, Sapphire Labs has provided a safety paper for its Nectar Defender product. It is an extensive document, so the following is a “digest” of its key points that validate the safety of this product: Feeder FreshTM Nectar Defender is designed to naturally prolong the freshness of hummingbird nectar, and promote the health of hummingbirds by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, algae, and mold.

The product uses micronutrient copper to maintain freshness, which is added as trace levels of copper sulfate, the same mineral supplement used in human and animal vitamins. The preservative action of copper is attributed to its ability to target the cellular proteins of mold and algae, denaturing them, and deactivating their enzyme systems. The micronutrient copper level in Nectar Defender is 6 ppm (parts per million), lower than the micronutrient requirement of hummingbirds, and far below the level that would cause any health risks to hummingbirds. An official nectar diet containing 8 ppm copper was established and used by UC Davis Avian researchers for long-term maintenance of hummingbirds. This level of copper was selected by the researchers to satisfy the copper micronutrient requirement of hummingbirds. Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds were maintained on this diet for several years, and the hummingbirds thrived, with no signs of copper related problems. It has also been used by other zoos and wildlife rehabilitation organizations to maintain other hummingbird species.

Hummingbird Nutrition: Development of a Purified Diet for Long-Term Maintenance, A.T. Brice and C.R. Grau, Department of Avian Sciences, University of California, Davis, Zoo Biology 8:233-237. Protein Requirements of Costa's Hummingbirds Calypte costae, Ann T. Brice and C. Richard Grau, Department of Avian Sciences, University of California, Davis, Physiological Zoolology 64 (2):611-626 Unlike iron, copper is well regulated by hummingbirds and rapidly excreted from the system. Copper does not accumulate when consumed at micronutrient levels according to published research and avian scientists. Birds have a robust system for copper homeostasis, and any copper that is not needed for the bird’s health is excreted. Studies show no difference in plasma or liver copper levels even when copper consumption is more than doubled. Since hummingbirds consume copper as part of their natural diet, FF Nectar Defender will control microbial growth in a natural way. In contrast, preservatives used in other commercial nectars are artificial, and not a natural part of the hummingbird’s diet. Multiple avian experts have approved the safety of FF Nectar Defender for hummingbirds, and three are cited here for reference: The safety of FF Nectar Defender for hummingbirds has been personally approved by Dr. Kirk Klasing. Dr. Klasing is an Avian Physiologist from the University of California, Davis, author of the reference book: “Comparative Avian Nutrition” and chair for the National Research Council’s multiple-expert review book: “Mineral Tolerance of Animals”, Second Revised Edition, 2005. When commenting on the 6 ppm level of copper in Nectar Defender, Dr. Klasing states that: “Given the available information and including a margin of safety for the unknowns, I recommend that copper levels in nectars that are between 3 and 20 ppm (as fed basis) should meet the copper needs of hummingbirds without causing toxicity when fed as the sole source of nutrition.”

The safety of Nectar Defender has also been personally approved by Dr. Ellen S. Dierenfeld, Dr. Dierenfeld has been in the Department of Wildlife Nutrition, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Bronx Zoo, the head of the Nutrition Department at the St. Louis Zoo, and was part of the team who solved the hummingbird iron toxicosis problem at the hummingbird aviary of the Sonora Desert Museum. She is co-author of the book: “Comparative Animal Nutrition and Metabolism”, 2010. Dr. Dierenfeld has a deep understanding of the micronutrient need of hummingbirds and other animals. Dr. Dierenfeld states: "Based on years of experience feeding a variety of nectarivorous species, including hummingbirds, the level of copper (6 mg/kg) in Feeder Fresh Nectar Defender is of no concern of toxicity to hummingbirds and is, in fact, within a range considered optimal for long-term health of this species regarding its dietary micronutrient copper requirements." The safety of Nectar Defender has also been personally approved by Dr. Dan Brown, Cornell University Professor of Animal Science. Dr. Brown’s focus is Nutritional Toxicology of animals, studying the effects of nutrients and toxins in the food chain and their metabolism. He was previously a faculty member of the Animal Science department at UC, Davis, and has been a faculty member at Cornell University for 19 years. Dr. Brown states: "Based on my expertise in nutritional toxicology, animal science and previous research, the level of copper micronutrient in Feeder Fresh Nectar Defender (6-7 ppm) will be safe for hummingbirds, and actually within the micronutrient range considered optimal for the long-term health of hummingbirds."