Hummingbirds may be the smallest birds in the world, but they still need big conservation help. Dozens of hummingbird species are vulnerable to habitat loss, predators and illness, and if the birds do become threatened their unique ecological niche and role in plant pollination can suffer greatly. Fortunately, it is easy to help hummingbirds and every birder can take steps to protect these flying gems.
One of the easiest ways to help hummingbirds is simply to feed them. Putting out hummingbird feeders with appropriate nectar gives these birds a ready food source to help fuel their migration and mating, ensuring they will have better survival chances.
Planting flowers to attract hummingbirds is another great way to offer a food source responsibly. Native flowers are most familiar to these birds, and they offer a nutritious source of crucial nectar. Furthermore, hummingbird flowers can be beautiful additions to any bird-friendly landscape.
3. Avoid Insecticides
Nectar may be hummingbirds’ primary food source, but it isn’t their only one. Hummingbirds need to eat dozens of insects daily to get enough protein and other nutrients in their diet to stay healthy, and insects are a particularly critical food source for young hummingbirds.
4. Offer Water Appropriately
Hummingbirds get all the water they need to drink from the nectar in their diet, but offering a source of water such as a mister, dripper or bubbler will give these birds a way to stay clean and keep their feathers carefully groomed. Preening is essential for hummingbirds’ flight, and water will help keep them flying right.
Hummingbird nests are masterful creations woven from different nesting material, but soft items such as natural cotton are a popular choice for hummingbirds to use when building their nests. Offering clean cotton for the birds to use can help them create nests to protect and shelter their chicks, and doing so can even encourage them to nest in your yard.
Sponsoring or adopting hummingbirds through conservation organizations is a great way to donate funds directly to help hummingbird rehabilitation and research. Many of these organizations are responsible for banding operations that track hummingbirds, and they help preserve the birds’ habitat and ensure their survival.
7. Support Rainforests
When choosing a charity to support, consider organizations that work to preserve and replenish critical rainforest habitats. Many hummingbirds rely on tropical habitats either year round or during critical winter months, and as rainforests are destroyed the birds lose their habitat and the resources they need to survive from year to year.
8. Buy Bird-Friendly Coffee
If you drink coffee, investigate certified bird-friendly coffee grown through sustainable methods that help preserve tropical habitats. This type of coffee is organic and shade-grown, which gives birds more habitat to use with fewer toxic chemicals to harm them.
9. Volunteer for Hummingbirds
Many bird conservation centers in hummingbird hotspots need volunteers to help with banding programs, educational presentations and hand-feeding demonstrations. Getting involved as a hummingbird volunteer can not only help the birds directly, but will spread the word to other groups and individuals about the importance of conserving and protecting these delicate birds.
Being a green birder every day will help all birds, including hummingbirds. Carpooling to birding events, recycling materials and conserving resources are all simple ways to help ensure that hummingbirds have a beautiful world to enjoy just as birders enjoy having hummingbirds in it.