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San Diego Humane Society

Hummingbird: Coexisting with Wildlife

What to do if you find:

There are seven species of hummingbirds in San Diego county and 80% of those that are brought into the triage center are Anna's hummingbirds. It's important to know that hummers need food often and have to stay warm so they should get to a rehabilitator ASAP. 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.

When a hummingbird flies inside

Note: it can be difficult to resolve this because the birds will always fly to a high point in the room/house, sometimes to a skylight.

  1. One method is first cover all the windows while leaving one escape route open, such as an open patio door. It will then have to be coaxed away from the ceiling and out that door.
  2. Another method is that the animal will just have to get exhausted and fall to the ground. It's important to feed it before releasing it outside.

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.

In case emergency food is needed 

  1. Mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.
  2. This can be administered with an eyedropper being careful not to get the bird wet.
  3. It's important to know that this is only a temporary diet to keep them alive. Hummingbirds cannot survive purely on sugar water or commercial nectar.


  • 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.

When does a hummingbird need to come to the Project Wildlife Care Center?

  • Caught by a cat or dog. If they are caught by a cat or dog they will always need to come to the triage center because the bites can be VERY infective and deadly to all birds. Please inform the center they were cat caught.
  • Found on the ground. If hummers are found on the ground please make an effort to find the nest and place the bird back. Please watch the nest for one hour to see if the mom returns. The nest should be watched closely as it will only take the mom 3 - 4 seconds to feed and leave again.
  • Bleeding or injured in any way. The animal will have to always come to the care center if it is bleeding or injured in any way.
  • It is thought that the nest has been abandoned. Mothers typically don't abandon their young unless something has happened to her. The nest must be watched closely because it takes only a few seconds for her to feed them 3 - 4 times and hour and leave. Watch for an hour before assuming it's abandoned.
  • Has flown into window and doesn't fly off. If a hummer has flown into a window, is not bleeding and doesn't fly away, place the animal in a safe place out of the sun for 15 - 20 minutes. If the bird has not flown away, it has sustained head injuries and is in need of help.


  • Hummingbirds that are found and need to come to the Triage center should be gently picked up and placed on tissue in a box with holes.
  • Never use cloth as their feet can become entangled in the fibers.
  • The animal also may need some heat by using a gooseneck lamp or heating pad but never too much heat.

About Hummingbirds:

  • 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.


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