Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Hummingbirds are fascinating and frustrating at the same time.  Everything they do is quick. Finding a resting hummingbird to photograph is difficult. Darting and dodging they seem uncatchable, but they don’t all get away. 

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Surprisingly, hummingbirds have more enemies than you might think.  Hawks and falcons have been documented killing hummingbirds. 

It is doubtful a 0.15-ounce hummingbird would do much to satisfy the hunger of a hawk or Peregrine Falcon, but it happens. 

Jays and Crows will nest rob, too, if the opportunity presents.

Strangely, bees and wasps pose a hazard to hummingbirds.
The same bee venom that causes so much discomfort in us is toxic to a tiny hummingbird.

I’ve observed a hummingbird holding off a wasp as they both tried to sip nectar from a feeder.  When another wasp arrived a standoff developed, when more wasps arrived the hummingbird left.

Hummingbirds can get trapped in spider webs, too.  Hummingbirds use spider silk to secure their nest to branches.  A spider’s silk has a tensile strength comparable to steel on a weight basis.  Procuring that web material presents some risk to the hummingbird and she may not always get away with her life. This is a female Anna's Hummingbird.

The common garden variety praying mantis has been documented as a capable predator on hummingbirds, also. (see link below).

But, the number one predator to hummingbirds is the house cat.  Left to roam outside, a house cat’s natural instinct is to hunt and all too often the cat wins. People love cats, so we can’t blame the cat for these fatalities. 

The hummingbirds that remain continue to entertain us with their brilliance and beauty.  This male Anna’s Hummingbird is presently claiming our back yard feeder in Arizona. It is a constant vigil for him...watching and intercepting intruders. 

He’s on the branch…he’s off the branch…he’s a blur. 

Between protecting his territory and impressing a female (it’s courting time in Arizona), he only has time for a quick sip of sugar water and it's back to showing-off again.


The Sibley Guide to Birds,
   David Allen Sibley
Birds of Southern Arizona,
   Richard Cachor Taylor

Hummingbird and Mantis: