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The Dangerous World of Hummingbirds


When most people wish and dream of becoming birds, they fantasize about what it’s like to fly around and be carefree. While soaring through the sky is undoubtedly an amazing experience, being a bird is not always the easiest thing—particularly if you’re a hummingbird.

Hummingbirds, because of their size and behavior, face a whole range of threats we as humans never consider. To give you a better idea of the scary world hummingbirds face, I’ve compiled this short list of major threats to hummingbirds.

Weather

Whenever it starts to rain, we run for cover to escape the droplets so we don’t get wet. The experience of hummingbirds is quite different. A recent study, as covered in the New York Times, has found that hummingbirds can survive rainstorms by shifting their posture and speed. A drop of rain can be 38 percent of a hummingbird’s body weight. The water isn’t the only thing they have to worry about. High winds can push hummingbirds into objects or drown them.

There have also been some reports that excessive snow and freezing temperatures kill hummingbirds. Bad weather is a bad sign for hummingbirds.

Spiders

If you’ve ever walked into a spider web, it can be pretty annoying trying to get those sticky webs off. When you’re a small bird that flies into a web, it could spell your doom. Orb weaver spiders are apparently abundant on the Texas coast, according to Chron, and the huge yard-long webs entrap hummingbirds and other small birds.

In most cases, it takes the intervention of humans to save the trapped birds.

Birds

Even though all the birds seem to get along just fine at your hummingbird feeders, a big threat to birds is other birds. For example, the Tiny Hawk, which is found in Central and South America is known to prey on and devour hummingbirds. Other types of birds, like orioles and falcons, also feed on hummingbirds.

Windows

When someone walks into a sliding glass door, it usually ends with hilarious results perfect for a show like America’s Funniest Home Videos. When a hummingbird does it, it’s not so funny. Windows—and frankly, most man-made objects—present harmful obstacles to hummingbirds.

Migration

Take all of the dangers presented above and multiply them exponentially. Those dangers tend to be minimized when flying around familiar areas, but when you’re traveling thousands of miles each year, the amount of rainstorms, spider webs, hawks, insects, windows and cars you will encounter grows. Some Rufous Hummingbirds travel more than 2,000 miles one way during migration. That is an insanely huge number considering they weigh as little as two grams.

So, the next time you dream about being a carefree bird soaring through the sky, maybe you should reconsider. You also might want to look at those funny hummingbirds at your feeders in a different light because they’ve dodged a lot just to be there. Appreciate their existence.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

8 Comments

  1. I also see them fighting for their nectar at their feeders, bees and wasps try to attack them all the time. i’ve often wondered if they could get stung by wasps or bees if it would kill them or injure them severely. imagine a human getting stung by a hornet or wasp the size of a baseball,it’d probably kill a human.

  2. I no I get around thirteen different hummingbirds at my feeders and one time my garage door was open and I left and went to work and 1 hummingbird went into the garage and was stuck in between the window all day untill I got home so I had to figure out how to get him outta there before he would die from the heat and no drink so I had to take a dish towel and cover it and got him out gently and set him free he was very thirsty so garages are also danderous.I have a lot of pictures I’ve taken of my hummingbirds how can I post them on there to show.they are so beautiful the hummingbirds.can someone tell me how to go about it.

  3. Although I’ve never heard of a hummingbird getting killed by wasps, they are known to swarm around and bother hummingbirds, so they can get their nectar. If they were stung, I imagine it would be severe.

  4. Don’t forget preying mantis! They feed on hummers as well and can blend into the plants the birds nectar from. 🙁

  5. […] fake spider webs occasionally mimic real spider webs and ensnare unexpected wildlife. While hummingbirds are usually the only birds that get caught in real spider webs, the large fake webs catch all types of bird, including […]

  6. […] When temperatures dip below freezing, it’s even more difficult for hummingbirds to survive and thrive because their natural source of food is harder to find, which is why some Audubon groups and nature shops encourage you to feed hummers in the winter. (And let’s face, hummingbirds have it rough already.) […]

  7. […] 6. It takes an average of two weeks for a hummer to complete its migratory journey. That’s a long time for such a small bird to be on the road, especially when the world is filled with dangerous and deadly obstacles. […]

  8. Right! Omg I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t witness it myself I would of saved the lil amazing bird! Saw on YouTube video of a praying mantis attacking a hummingbird and was shocked as heck.

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