Thursday, March 29, 2012

Important Information to Know About Hummingbirds

The tiny patient in this photo is a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. These little birds may especially need your help this time of year.  (Photo credit: Gina Javurek Smith)

Marge has some important information about hummingbirds she would like everyone to know. She wrote the following:

"We have received several calls this morning about hummingbirds in torpor.

Due to the extremely mild spring, male hummers have begun to show up very early several weeks ahead of their normal schedule. They are arriving in our area having completed the spring migration that has taken them 2,000 miles including a non-stop 500 mile segment over the Gulf of Mexico. The early arrival in our area, while exciting for residents, created a serious problem for the hummers when the temperature dropped the past few days.

Torpor is a deep sleep state entered into to conserve energy. The tiny birds are often mistaken for being dead during torpor. Hummingbirds go into torpor when they are unable to keep up with their body’s needs. During torpor the tiny bird's body temperature drops to about 30 degrees F. They are found motionless on a small branch, on the ground or even hanging upside down during the torpor state.

Unique birds, hummingbirds are a tiny package with a metabolism that is 100 times that of an elephant. Their heart beats up to 1,260 times a minute! They need to eat up to 8 times their own body weight each day. They are arriving in WI having exhausted their fat stores. They are counting on warm weather, adequate flowers, and tiny insects to keep them in good health.

If you find a hummingbird that appears to be dead, carefully gather it up as you would a butterfly. Cup it in your hands and put it into a box. Call Raptor Education Group, Inc. (715-623-4015 or 715-627-7408) or take it to the wildlife center as soon as possible.  Do not try to feed it! During torpor hummers will drown if forced to drink.

Hummingbirds will recover from torpor in about 20 minutes but need specialized treatment afterwards to assist them getting back to health. Hummingbirds, like all migratory birds, are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and are illegal to have without state and federal permits.

Hummingbird feeders are very important to their survival now, especially during the early arrival.  Good quality food is vital to them. A mixture of one part sugar to 4 parts water is the recommended mixture. Check with Wild Birds Unlimited in Wausau for quality products for hummingbirds."

This Ruby-throated Hummingbird is buried face-deep in a delicious honeysuckle flower. When flowers like this aren't available, hummers come looking for your feeders.  Help them by getting your feeders out today.

You can find more interesting facts about hummingbirds at When you read through the list of incredible facts, you will surely be astonished. These, the tiniest of the birds, are nothing short of extraordinary. One of the surprising facts on the list is that hummingbirds enjoy perching and they spend much of their life perching. That has me thinking about a wonderful product called a hummingbird swing which you hang near your hummingbird feeders. It is a great way to give your backyard hummers a place to rest their wings while giving you another way to watch them. You can find hummingbird swings at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Wausau, WI. I encourage you to check out the store for all of their wonderful, high-quality wild bird products and food.  

This is an awesome product called a hummingbird swing. Hang it near your hummingbird feeders! (Photo provided by Lori Schubring of Wild Birds Unlimited-Wausau)

Thank you for looking out for your wild neighbors! Have a good weekend everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

1 comment:

  1. Are we actually getting confirmed reports of hummingbirds? If so these would be record early and the reports would be great to have entered into the WSO record books!