Coexisting with Wildlife: Hummingbird
What to do if you find:
If you find an injured or orphaned hummingbird on the ground, lift it along with the material it is sitting on, and place it on crumpled tissue in a small box with holes in the lid. Always use tissue or paper towels, NOT cloth. The bird’s feet may become entangled in the cloth. Provide the bird with a low heat source, but be careful not to overheat the bird. If it starts open-mouth breathing or its neck is outstretched, it is too hot.
Food & Water
Hummingbirds can become very ill if they are not fed every four hours during the day. Hummingbirds have very high metabolisms and should be transferred to a rehabber as soon as possible so that they can be started on a properly balanced diet. Hummingbirds cannot survive purely on sugar water or commercial nectar.
IF YOU FIND A BABY HUMMINGBIRD, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED IT! GET HELP IMMEDIATELY.
- Try to keep the baby in the nest if possible.
- If not, line a plastic margarine cup with tissue and keep the baby warm (this is essential) by placing it under a gooseneck lamp about 5 inches away from the bulb.
- Do not overheat the bird. If it starts open-mouth breathing or its neck is outstretched, it is too hot.
- Overheating can kill the bird.
- Keep the baby warmed to an outside temperature between 85-90 degrees.
- Only found in the Americas; most are tropical or sub-tropical.
- As long as there are many nectar-producing flowers in the area, hummingbirds can feed and nest there. This includes areas 5,000 meters above sea level.
- Ninety percent of diet comes from nectar while the other 10% is from insects such as flies and wasps.
- Predators include snakes, falcons, and owls. Nest predators include jays and some bats.
- Able to live up to 10 years.
- Males breed with multiple females and then leave the task of nest building and caring for offspring to them.
- Breeding occurs when conditions permit, and can happen up to two times in one year.
- Females lay two eggs during breeding season.
- Smaller hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 70-80 times per second.
- Heartbeats range from 500-600 beats per minute when the hummingbird is resting and can skyrocket past 1,000 beats per minute when in motion.
- At night, they go into torpor, a state of suspended animation, to conserve energy.
- Unlike most other vertebrates, hummingbirds can see ultraviolet light, which may help them find flowers with ultraviolet patterns.
Setting up a hummingbird feeder:
- Do not place hummingbird feeders near a window. Although beautiful to watch, hummingbirds may fly to the feeder reflected in the window and injure themselves on the glass.
- Never use honey to make hummingbird food; always make the food with clean water and pure white sugar; 4 parts water to one part sugar. Change the feeder every few days to avoid bacterial growth.
- Keep your pet cat indoors if you have hummingbirds in your yard. Due to their tiny size, hummingbirds are easy prey to an agile cat.
Published: April 29, 2019