Hummingbirds are tiny compared to other bird species. For some predators, they don’t seem that delectable as they are on the prowl for a large, more satiating meal. However, there are still many insects that eat hummingbirds in their nesting area and favorite perches.
If you have housed these tiny movers as a birder, you need to know their cause of fatalities. This can help you save your hummers from becoming a meal.
Since hummingbirds are quite small, they have different predators. Their flight pattern is both a boon and a bane as it saves them but puts them in danger at the same time. They can fly forwards, backward, upwards, and downwards. They can even hover in the air for a while. This makes them an easy target of praying mantises, spiders, frogs, lizards, snakes, and other birds.
Now that you know what insects and reptiles make hummingbirds their next meal, let’s take a look at the whys and hows of the capture:
Types of Hummingbird Predators
Hummingbirds and every other bird or animal are a part of the food chain. With their tine stature and delicate wings, it may seem that no one would wish harm on a hummingbird. However, in the animal kingdom, these tiny birds are often targeted by predators.
As you can guess, the most common predators are large predatory birds. Since hummingbirds are fast, their hunters are in the same speed category. American Kestrels, Sharp-shinned hawks, Mississippi kites, Loggerhead Shrikes, and Merlins are some of the birds that can easily nab these tiny beauties.
Below is a list of all the hummingbird predators:
Frogs seldom capture hummingbirds. It usually happens when the birds drink from a pond and the frogs leap out to capture them. There hasn’t been any photographic evidence of the incident. However, dissections of frogs’ stomachs have shown dead hummingbirds.
These insects are meat-eaters. They are always hunting for other bugs and love eating small birds. According to a study by zoologists from Switzerland, praying mantises mostly consume hummingbirds. They are attracted to the bird’s feeder because that’s where they can snare wasps and bees as well. Praying mantises see, capture, and kill. Praying mantises don’t always succeed in killing hummingbirds as they are smaller in size. However, their speed is what gives them an edge.
Did you know that hummingbirds are lighter than a nickel? Hence, they get stuck on the web easily. Hummingbirds gravitate towards spiders because their web holds food for them, and they use the silk to build their own nest. Sometimes, when these tiny birds fly too close to the web, the silk strands trap them. Spiders typically don’t lie in wait for hummingbirds for their next meal, but they don’t pass a free one. An orb-weaver, a large spider, cocoons the hummingbird before eating it.
A wildlife photo captured by Joseph Kennedy, a birder showed a dragonfly munching on a hummingbird. The predator in question was larger than the bird, ranging from 7 to 9 centimeters. This image put all the stories to rest of jumbo dragonflies fluttering amongst us.
Bees and Wasps
While hummingbirds love sugar water, they need insects in their diet for protein. Both prey and predator often get stuck together in an unusual situation. For example, the hummingbird might impale the bee with its beak. As a result, they both starve to death. For this reason, birders often hang fake wasp nests to keep the real ones away from hummingbirds.
A wildlife photo captured by birder Joseph Kennedy showed a dragonfly munching on a hummingbird. The predator in question was larger in size than the bird, ranging from 7 to 9 centimeters. It put all the stories of jumbo dragonflies fluttering among us to rest.
Protecting Hummingbirds from Predators
Hummingbirds are a threatened and endangered species. They feed on the nectar of special flowers not available in urban areas. Since these tiny birds are live in the rainforest, it can be difficult for them to adjust to an urban environment. Hence, you need to create a habitat similar to the one they prefer to keep them from dying of natural causes.
If you have prepared a nest for hummingbirds in your backyard, the first thing you need to do is keep it high, where domestic animals such as a cat can’t get to them. One of the major reasons why hummingbirds disappear from human-made nests is because cats leap at them to host a snack party or give you the bird as a present. So, you should keep their feeders for both food and water at a height.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can keep hummingbirds safe from their predators:
Avoid Using Pesticide
Hummingbirds frequently visit house yards and feed on the flowers in your garden. Using pesticides can poison them. While these products protect your plants and flowers, they kill hummingbirds. Try using non-chemical options for all-round protection.
Install Window Feeders
Due to their small structure, hummingbirds can fly fast, and that’s they often collide with windows and other reflective surfaces that show plants. These collisions can lead to their death. You can prevent these accidents by installing window feeders to slow them down.
Position the Feeders High
As said earlier, cats often prey on hummingbirds. These birds are extremely smart and know how to take cover. You can install a large feeder that provides them with a cover. Once the birds become familiar with the feeder, they use it as shelter to hide from predators.
Clean the Feeders Regularly
Clean the feeder every time before refilling it. Hummingbirds can taste dish soap and bacteria. As a result, they will stop feeding and put themselves in danger by coming to the ground to search for food.
Hang the Feeder in a Quiet Place
Hummingbirds don’t like loud noises as they cause them to get scared. They are an indication of predators nearby. So, make sure that you install the feeder somewhere in the bushes where domestic animals and your children can’t reach.
In conclusion, hummingbirds have plenty of predators. These tiny birds might be intelligent and fast, but other creatures are as well. Flies trap them in their wings, frogs hop and capture them, and spiders trap them in their web. While not all insects eat hummingbirds, they don’t pass up a free meal.
If you want to keep hummingbirds safe, you need to create a safe habitat from them, which offers protection from insects and animals.