Signed in as:
Signed in as:
Hummingbirds are surely one of the most fragile birds on the planet. Their body structure allows them to stop on a dime, hover for considerably long periods at a time, and even fly horizontally in reverse. Their wings can beat at an incredible 52 times per second, and their heart rate ranges from 250 to 1,200 beats per minute depending on activity. On cold evenings they go into a hibernation mode called a torpor that puts them in such a trance they become unresponsive.
Many people associate hummingbirds with red sugar water and feeders, although that sugar water is one of the things that sickens them the most. Calls commonly made to the rehabilitation facilities are due to respiratory distress from dirty feeders, hummingbirds caught by cats, injuries from territorial battles, and nests inadvertently cut down during landscaping projects.
The females make the nests and raise the young on their own. Their nests are the size of a walnut and are made out of tiny silk spider webs and lichen. The eggs they lay are the size of tic-tacs, and the newly hatched babies are as small as raisins. The mom is on a constant lookout for insects and nectar to feed on, while still defending the nest on her own. Babies fledge within about three weeks of hatching, although many do not make it through the first year.
Aloe, yucca, and other trumpet-like flowers work great. For more detailed information and native varieties, please click on one of the links below.
Hummingbirds not only sip nectar for energy and hydration, they also rely on small bugs like gnats for protein and proper development. Without the gnats and small insects, hummingbirds will not be able to survive. They eat a fourth of their body weight daily, so insecticides not only have a negative effect because the birds eat the poisoned bugs, but the birds can also run out of food.
Backyard feeders can cause more harm than good. If you are going to have a feeder at your home, please make sure you can keep up with the demand of caring for it.
Just like you would not like to drink out of somebody's dirty glass, neither do hummingbirds. Dirty feeders spread disease, and the mold that quickly grows causes fatal upper respiratory infections, making it necessary to clean feeders daily in our extreme temperatures.
Please do not use soap. A small amount of soap residue can make the birds ill. Please clean feeders with hot water and a small scrub brush regularly. Most feeders can also be sterilized in boiling water to get the mold that hides underneath or in hard-to-reach areas that can't be seen. You can also use a 10/1 bleach solution or vinegar, but please remember to rinse thoroughly so no residue is left behind.
Unfortunately, red dye is not good for hummingbirds. The food coloring is too much for their systems to process, and it is not necessary to attract them. Sugar substitutes such as honey and organic, unbleached sugars will also harm hummingbirds. Bleached white sugar at a 4:1 ratio is best.