The ruby-throated hummingbird faces natural and man-made threats. Understanding some of the threats they face can assist you in learning how you can help with hummingbird conservation.
- One of the easiest ways to help hummingbirds is simply to feed them. However, hummingbird feeders that are not properly maintained may harbor toxic mold that may cause sickness or death. Clean hummingbird feeders regularly, and use a properly mix nectar recipe to provide adequate nutrition for your backyard birds.
- Planting nectar plants to attract hummingbirds is another great way to offer a food source responsibly. Native plants are generally the best choice. Many common ornamental plants often do not provide sufficient nectar and some become invasive and colonize natural areas at the expense of native plants.
- Pesticides and insecticides eliminate insects that are an essential food source for hummingbirds. Minimize pesticide use on your landscaping or choose organic insect control methods. Never spray insecticides near hummingbird feeders.
- Throughout the Americas hummingbirds face the loss and degradation of habitat. There are several ways you can help. One is to support international conservation groups such as: American Bird Conservancy, Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy which benefit humans and wildlife. Another way is to choose tropical products such as coffee, chocolate and bananas that are grown in an environmentally sustainable way.
- Both pet and feral cats pose a threat to hummingbirds. With hummingbirds returning repeatedly to the same food sources, they are vulnerable to being ambushed by cats. To protect hummingbirds in your backyard, keep pet cats indoors and discourage feral cats.
- A hummingbird’s curiosity may get it into trouble if its explorations lead it into a building through an open door or window. As hummingbirds explore their environment, they occasionally enter into an open garage or shed and are unable to find their way out. When they realize they are trapped, their survival instinct is to fly upward to the highest point, out of reach of potential danger. This behavior may make it more difficult for the bird to find its way out. If the hummer remains trapped for a long time, its frantic search for a way out may lead to exhaustion. You can help a trapped hummer by opening all possible exits (doors and windows) offering as many escape routes as possible. Place a hummingbird feeder near the most convenient exit or place anything that is bright red to lure it to the exit. For buildings with high ceiling, place the ladder close to where the bird is hovering and wait for it to tire. Then catch and release it. You may offer the scared and exhausted hummer some fresh nectar before you set it free. Then remove any red lures in or close to the building and close up all entry points.
- Hummingbirds have very specialized needs, and each year many orphaned, sick, or injured hummingbirds die in the hands of well-meaning but unqualified individuals. It is best to let Nature take its course or give the sick or injured hummer the greatest chance of survival by turning it over to a licensed rehabilitator as soon as possible. Call the state department of wildlife office for the phone number of a wildlife rescue rehabilitator near you.