There are several dangers hummingbirds face from in their natural habitats like attacks from other wildlife, and illness from diseases. Preventable hazards include pesticide ridden plant-life, domesticated dogs and cats, habitat disruption, window collisions, and unsanitary nectar feeding stations.
Hummingbirds don’t have an easy life. From habitat destruction, natural predators, pesticides, windows, and even dirty feeders, danger lurks around every corner. To ensure that your friendly neighborhood Hummingbirds are safe in your backyard, it’s critical to understand the risks and ways you can help.
Whether it’s cleaning your feeders regularly, keeping tabs on your pets, or even planting the right kind of plants, there are many ways to help. Check out this list of hazards that Hummingbirds face and ways that you can lend a hand.
For these tiny birds, danger lurks around every corner. However, by following these simple tips, you can create a safe backyard Hummingbird sanctuary.
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Threats to Hummingbirds
Threats to Hummingbirds come on all fronts. Whether man-made, well-intended, or natural predators, their speed and size sometimes make them easy targets. Below, we have compiled an index of some of the most common threats to Hummingbirds and simple tips to help them survive the dangers of the natural world!
Stop the use of Pesticides on Lawns and Flowering Plants
An estimated 67 million wild birds die every year because of the use of toxic pesticides. Pesticides may help fight off invasive bugs but are also lethal to Hummingbirds. While these chemicals often help keep your flowering plants safe from pests and disease, they can be lethal to Hummingbirds that drink the nectar from their flowers. If you want perfect Hummingbird food sources landscaping, it’s best to skip on the pesticides.
So, how can you keep your plant life healthy without the use of chemicals? You should weed your garden by hand, and opt for organic solutions for pest control, such as: dish soap, white vinegar, and salt. Other alternatives include planting native plants that will naturally thrive in your area (and requires virtually no ongoing maintenance) that will subdue the pests in your gardens and yards, such as lemongrass, citronella, rosemary, oregano, and other aromatic herbs and plant life.
Domesticated Animals such as Cats and Dogs
The Hummingbird’s most notorious predator is the feral cat, but domesticated cats and dogs are also detrimental to Hummingbirds. These domestic Hummingbird predators often flock around feeding stations and bird feeders on the hunt for small birds. It’s in a pet’s nature to hunt, and you can’t very well create an itemized list of pests that are approved for hunting for your furry family members.
Here are a several tips to ensure your pets won’t make a meal from your Hummingbirds. Create a sectioned-off area of the yard for feeders that pets cannot access, keep your domestic cats indoors when you know the hummingbirds are visiting your feeders, and instead of letting dogs loose in the yard, keep them on a leash. You can also hang your
Unsanitized Nectar Bird Feeders
If you don’t keep your feeders clean, visiting Hummingbirds risk catching potentially deadly fungal and bacterial infections. You must swap out your Hummingbird nectar regularly and give those bird feeders a good cleaning. How often you clean your feeders depends on the time of year.
Feeders must be completely emptied and cleaned once per week to every two days or so – in the summer heat. If you live in an area with Anna’s Hummingbird (that doesn’t migrate), cleaning it once a week in the winter will suffice. Hummingbird feeding ports can be cleaned with a soft brush and a gentle cleaning solution along with your other bird species’ songbird feeders.
Physical Hazards – Window Collisions
A flying Hummingbird is no stranger to a squeaky clean window. Are you sitting down? A Smithsonian study found that up to one billion birds die annually in the United States from window collisions. There’s no worse feeling than hearing a bird smack into your window. So, is there any way to avoid this horrible fate?
- Install Bird Tape – Taping your windows may seem less than ideal, but Amazon has a few creative and aesthetically appealing window tape options that make your windows look even better while keeping birds safe.
- Place Hummingbird Feeders In A Safe Location – Of course, you want to place your feeders as close to your windows as possible for some morning birdwatching, but this can cause more harm than good. Always put feeders far away from windows so Hummingbirds aren’t tempted to fly inside your home only to be stopped by your window.
Habitat Loss by Human Disruption
Urbanization and habitat loss if one of the main threats to Hummingbirds. Species such as the Rufous Hummingbird, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, and Anna’s Hummingbird are often displaced due to changing habitats. Also, the loss of native plants is another significant threat to Hummingbirds. While non-native plants may look prettier than native plants, they threaten the area’s ecology.
While there is not much you can do to stop urbanization; there are other ways to help. Consider donating to reputable conservation efforts, such as the National Audobon Society. Plant plenty of native plants in your backyard, creating a safe, pet-free space with flowering native plants and clean, dye-free nectar will be the best support you can provide to your local hummingbird friends and neighboring animal life. Lastly – never ever use chemical pesticides when landscaping.
While Hummingbirds encounter their share of man-made dangers, they have a host of natural predators. Some of the most notorious creatures that pray on Hummingbirds include insects like wasps, dragonflies, robber flies, spiders, and even praying mantises on occasion. Occasionally other bird species will also pray on the little hummingbirds such as hawks, and blue jays.
Spiders create spider webs that are strong enough for Hummingbirds to become stuck. Other predators, such as the Praying Mantis, perch on Hummingbird feeders waiting to strike. Many predators, such as Squirrels, Blue Jays, or other songbirds, dine on Hummingbirds’ eggs.
What Is The Number One Killer Of Hummingbirds?
It’s not easy being a tiny Hummingbird. With so many man-made and natural dangers, they are easy targets. However, the biggest threat to Hummingbirds is dirty feeders. It’s sad but true. It would be best if you kept your feeders incredibly and always use fresh nectar. If you prefer to use commercial nectar mixes rather than make your own, never buy red nectar.
While hummingbirds are attracted and gravitate towards the color red, these commercial mixes sometimes contain toxic dye that is unhealthy for humans, let alone hummingbirds. If you want to keep hummingbirds coming back to your feeders, opt for red hummingbird feeders and always use clear nectar.