Feature post by Ernie Allison
The fact that hummingbirds are the smallest birds on the planet which is probably why many people don’t even consider them when they think of where to focus their conservation efforts. Fact of the matter is that, despite their small size, hummingbirds have a huge impact on the ecosystem and no other creature could fill their unique niche. In line with the bees, hummingbirds are some of the most efficient natural pollinators and insect control forces around. Because of this, it’s important for us to make sure that we keep them around by helping out in our conservation efforts.
Challenges Hummingbirds Face
Hummingbirds have so many natural predators, more than most other birds, that the last thing they need is human activity adding to the mix. Creatures that you wouldn’t usually consider as a threat to a bird are very real threats to hummingbirds because of the hummingbird’s small size. Preying mantises, spiders, frogs, and a whole other array of predators pose as lethal threats to hummingbirds. Even a single sting from a bee or a wasp can kill a hummingbird because their bodies are so small that they are unable to absorb the venom.
Climate changes are also affecting hummingbirds’ chances of survival. The changing temperatures are causing hummingbirds to be seen well out of the usual migratory routes which can make it more difficult more them to find food and other resources.
Because hummingbirds have so many forces working against them, we should do all that we can to help. That doesn’t mean that you should donate all of your savings to hummingbird conservations efforts, you can if you want to, but there are a lot of little ways that you can contribute to help conserve hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds need a lot of food to keep up with their high expenditures of energy as they complete their migratory journeys so one of the best things you can do to help is to provide food for them. Keep your hummingbird feeders full and leave them up until you know that the hummingbirds are gone for the season. Scientists have established that availability of food resources won’t affect their decision to migrate so don’t worry about leaving your feeder up too long. If you do decide to hang hummingbird feeders, make sure that you hang them high so that they are less vulnerable to cat attacks from both feral and domestic cats.
You can also plant certain flowers that produce nectar in your garden to provide food sources. Daylilies, penstemons, sunset hyssops, and cardinal flowers are all great at attracting and nourishing hummingbirds.
Even though hummingbirds receive all of the water they need through nectar, they still need water sources that allow them to bathe. They particularly like water sources with fountains which allow them to take quick showers.
Avoid using insecticides and other synthetic chemicals in your yard. They may make you yard look momentarily healthy but they have long term negative effects on the environment and the animals that directly or indirectly come into contact with them. Rely on organic methods of lawn care instead.
Author Bio: Ernie Allison is a nature writer with a particular interest in birds. He is dedicated to using his writing skills to bring awareness to conservation issues concerning birds. To help further this mission, he writes for birdfeeders.com, which supplies hummingbird feeders.
Image credit: D.Eickhoff, courtesy flickr