What to do if you find a Hummingbird
If you have found a hummingbird in need of immediate help, please click here for information.
How to Coexist with Hummingbirds
If you have 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 couple days to avoid bacterial growth and bleach with a 10% bleach solution. To try to prevent disease transmission between birds and in order to prevent them from becoming dependent on the feeders, it’s a good idea to take feeders down for a few days at a time and then put them back up.
- 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.
About Hummingbirds (Order: Apodiformes)
- Hummingbirds are birds that comprise the family Trochilidae.
- They are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 3–5cm in range.
- They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 12–90 times per second (depending on the species). They can also fly backwards, and are the only group of birds able to do so.
- They can fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (34 mi/h).
- With the exception of insects, hummingbirds while in flight have the highest metabolism of all animals, a necessity in order to support the rapid beating of their wings.
- Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute.
- Their English name derives from the characteristic hum made by their rapid wing beats.
- Hummingbirds drink nectar, a sweet liquid inside certain flowers. Like bees, they are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat; they reject flower types that produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is stronger.
- Nectar is a poor source of nutrients, so hummingbirds meet their needs for protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. by preying on insects and spiders.
- They also consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers daily. Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight.
- Hummingbirds are capable of slowing down their metabolism at night, or any other time food is not readily available. They enter a hibernation-like state known as torpor. During torpor, the heart rate and rate of breathing are both slowed dramatically (the heart rate to roughly 50–180 beats per minute), reducing the need for food.