Saturday, July 16, 2011


Hello All,

This little hummer was rescued last night from a cat. Her wing is injured and she can't fly without falling to the ground. She is eating the sugar water mixture we gave her: 4 parts water to 1 part sugar, boiled and cooled. An essential red lid provides it. 

Anna's Hummingbird hen with an injured wing.
She was rescued from under the foot of a cat last night.
Any suggestions on helping her recover? I know they also eat small insects. My husband suggested aphids, but we don't have any. I read that fruit flies are a good source of protein for hummers. Now, where did I toss that banana skin?

We do have very small moths and can probably find a mosquito or two for her, especially since our baby Swallows have all left the bird houses and none are staying close to our home any longer. Wish the parents would decide on a second clutch, but that never seems to happen with Swallows like it does with parakeets.

Although we have several varieties of hummingbirds at our feeders right now, I believe this one is an Anna's hummingbird. This variety doesn't migrate and remains in Oregon all year long. That's a positive in her favor if she never flies again and can't leave ... she won't have an urge to migrate.

The bird's coloration is that of a hen or a very young Anna's hummingbird. Males get their irredescent red throats when they mature. Young male birds look like the hens. I hope this bird is actually a youngster and not a hen who left a nest. She doesn't seem to be afraid of us, a possible sign that she's young, or just used to seeing us around the feeders. They will sometimes land on our hands as we carry the cleaned and refilled feeders back outside.

This morning my husband was the first one into the kitchen where the bird slept last night. He came back to tell me that the hummingbird hadn't made it. That she was dead.

"That's odd," I said. "She didn't seem to have any major injuries, just an injured wing."

"Well, she's laying stiff, and her beak is in the sugar water like she drowned in it." He took my hand and we both went back to the kitchen.

The bird was sitting on her perch, looking sedate and comfortable.

If you haven't heard about "torpor" in hummingbirds, you should know about it. When hummingbirds sleep, they go into a hibernation-like state called torpor (pronounced TOR-per). This is a really deep sleep. They may appear dead, but aren't. So, if you find an unresponsive hummingbird, don't toss it in a garbage can! Leave it alone, even if hanging upside down. However, if it's in danger from a cat or something else, you can move it to a safe place and watch it, releasing it when it wakes up.  

We hope this bird will fully recover and can be released. It's illegal in the U.S. to keep a migratory bird, and just because this one doesn't migrate, they might still want to fine us for having it. If she can't recover enough to fly, perhaps there's a bird rescue facility we can locate, or get a permit for her ...? I'll have to look into it. Unless a bird sanctuary takes her, we may have a resident hummingbird for the duration of her life. I've seen videos of tame hummingbirds, but never one that couldn't fly. It's sad and I hope she fully recovers and can be released. If not, I guess I'll have to think of a name for her. Any suggestions?

Peace to you on this lovely Saturday.


neversink7 said...

Good luck and I hope the little hummingbird makes a full recovery. I believe they get protein from pollen, so perhaps you may be able to purchase some bee pollen or Avian Trio for her to eat - various on-line pet shops do sell them. I read they eat insects by licking at the bugs with their tongue which is a bit sticky, so perhaps you may be able to find flightless fruit flies for her - these are sold as cultures online or in pet stores that sell food for tiny reptiles/amphibians such as dart frogs. Perhaps Anna will make a good name for her if she's indeed a girl? :)

FlyingCircus said...

Hi! Hummers need water in addition to their nectar... you will want to provide her with a water dish, or perhaps drench some greens for her to drink off of. Can't advise you as far as insects, but fruit flies sound right. Some web research should help you. I tried to rehab a hummer a few years ago, and hung a small hummingbird feeder right in its cage. In your case, the bird can't fly to it, though. As far as keeping migratory birds, if they're non-releasable, just don't tell anyone from the government or Dept. of Ag that you have one. If you can rehab the bird to the point where it is releasable, the same advice applies. I've done it myself. I hope the little gem will recover.

FlyingCircus said...

I forgot to mention that you can apply for a Federal Bird Rehabber permit. Google for that (be creative in what you call it), and you'll find the info. Also, local pet stores may have insect food for reptiles, or frozen/canned insect food that you can mince very very finely with a chef's knife. I don't know if the bird will eat that, but it's worth a try.