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San Diego Humane Society

Hummingbird: Coexisting with Wildlife

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.

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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