Hi, we are trying to get a Black-Chinned baby healthy enought to release. Are there any protein supplements we should add to the nectar? Right now we are using the red stuff you buy at PetSmart. Is there something better? She can fly a little but always seems a lttle weak. Thanks for any help!! Bob
Bob there is a formula that is available but it may only be available to rehabbers and vets as once it is mixed it spoils quickly. First I would discontinue using the 'red stuff' and mix your own sugar water ...1 plain old granulated cane sugar to 3 or 4 parts water without any food coloring or supplements added. Next I would contact a rehabber in your area to see if you can get what you need from them.
Here is some excellent information from a previous post by Annie. Since you didn't post your location I can't give you any information on rehabbers in your area but there is information in the following on where to find rehabbers.
Call your vet ASAP to find out who in your area to take the bird to.
Here's the info from the Project Wildlife site, including a phone # to call to find a rehabilitator in your area:
The guidelines provided here are only for temporary care for hummingbirds until a wildlife rehabilitator/ center can be contacted for assistance.
Wildlife rehabilitators/Centers are issued special permits by the State and Federal governments to care for native wildlife. It is illegal to have native birds and mammals in your possession without the proper permits. Many hours of training go into caring for wildlife. These birds require specialized treatment, care and diets to help ensure a successful release back into the wild.
Hummingbirds are the smallest bird species found in the world. They can hover, fly backwards and at times upside-down! Their wings beat up to seventy-eight times per second. They feed from flowers that contain nectar to support their aerial acrobatics and rapid metabolism. In addition, they eat insects to fulfill their need for protein. Hummingbirds must eat often and may die quickly if no food source is available. If you have found a hummingbird, please call Project Wildlife (or another wildlife rehabilitation center in your area) at once. See the resource section.
COMMON INJURIES/ ILLNESSES FOUND IN HUMMINGBIRDS
Across North America, an estimated 100 million to one billion birds die each year after colliding with human-built structures. The reflective and transparent characteristics of glass make windows invisible killers. Birds see a tree reflected in a window or a plant behind it, not the glass. A large percentage of injured hummingbirds seen by Project Wildlife are a result from window strikes. If you witness a hummingbird collide with a window, or find a downed hummingbird close to a window, here’s how you can help:
If the bird is not gasping for breath, carefully pick up the bird and place it in a safe place (out of the sun, away from cats & dogs, & elevated above the ground to protect them from predators) to recover.
If the bird is gasping for breath or you notice bleeding, bring the bird indoors and contact a wildlife rehabilitator/center for assistance.
If the bird has not flown away within 15-20 minutes, it will need to be fed. See adult feeding instructions.
If after feeding (at least twice) and the bird has not recovered within an hour, bring the bird inside and contact a wildlife rehabilitator/center for assistance. Contain the bird in a small shoebox or small container with a lid. Line with tissue or toilet paper. (Poke holes for air) Most likely the bird has sustained a significant head trauma, wing fracture or other injuries that require treatment.
If the bird has recovered, there are no notable injuries, has been fed if needed and is flying well (normal hummingbird flight, fast and furious), the bird can be released. Do not release hummingbirds at night.
For more information on Window Strikes, and suggestions for preventing them, visit www.flap.org
Cat Caught Hummingbirds
It’s estimated that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in this country. Due to the flying agility of a hummingbird, one would think they would not be easy targets for cats, but this is not the case. Project Wildlife receives hundreds of hummingbirds every year that are “cat caught”. Many times the hummingbird has actually struck a window initially and then been discovered on the ground by a cat. It is not unusual for the cat to bring the injured hummingbird into the house to the owner’s dismay. The bite of a cat can be VERY infective and deadly to all birds. More often than not, hummingbirds need to be treated with medication to counteract the deadly saliva which can contain up to 60 different types of bacteria. If you receive a cat caught hummingbird, here are some things you can do to help:
GENTLY extract the hummingbird from the cat’s mouth if needed.
Carefully check to see if there are any visible injuries, signs of blood, or labored breathing. Place the bird in a small shoebox or container with lid (poke holes for air).
Attempt to feed bird, see adult feeding instructions.
Contact a wildlife rehabilitator/center for assistance.
For information regarding protecting birds from being cat caught visit: www.abcbirds.org
Hummingbirds can suffer from illnesses in the wild. Common ailments include fungal infections and the avian pox virus. Fungal infections can result in black bulbous growths on the bill. The bill looks thickened and many times the tongue will be thick and white, instead of its normal transparent appearance. Avian pox presents with cauliflower like looking growths at the base of the bill, around the eyes, under the wings and on the legs and feet. Normally, a hummingbird that is ill can be identified by its appearance. During the day, healthy hummingbirds should be be alert and actively preening, vocalizing, flying and defending territories. Hummingbirds that are seen constantly perching on a feeder, have body feathers that are puffed out like a cotton ball (during the day), eyes closed or have tongues extending out of their bills are most likely unhealthy birds. Hummingbirds showing any of these signs will most likely need treatment by a wildlife rehabilitator/center as soon as possible. The most important thing one can do for these birds is to provide heat and food. See Adult care instructions. To help avoid illnesses/ injuries in hummingbirds:
Maintain a clean hummingbird feeder at all times.
Provide fresh sugar water solution on a regular basis.
Use granulated sugar, no honey, artificial sweeteners or red food coloring.
(4 parts water to 1 part sugar)
If using an ant trap with feeder, fill only with water.
Avoid the use of petroleum jelly, cooking oil or tangle foot type products on feeders to deter insects.
Do not use pesticides in your garden.
Hummingbirds often become trapped in homes, offices, and garages. This situation can be very frustrating. One may have all doors and windows open to enable the bird to escape, but the bird seems to concentrate at the ceiling or windows located high above. This is the bird’s natural inclination and it will need to be coaxed into coming down. Try the following:
The objective is to tire the bird out by keeping it flying as much as possible. This can be done by using brooms, pool scoops or anything that has a long handle and waving it in the air.
Once the bird becomes fatigued, one should be able to gently retrieve the bird.
It is crucial that these birds be fed before released. If not fed, they may not have the energy to get to a food source. See adult feeding instructions. Do not release hummingbirds at night.
For more information regarding trapped hummingbirds visit: www.hummingbirds.net
Injured or orphaned hummingbirds require a very specialized diet. Feeding them only sugar water or “nectar” is like feeding children soda pop – it contains no nutritional value whatsoever! Babies fed sugar water or “nectar” may develop deformities or die.
Important: Do NOT feed injured or orphaned hummingbirds sugar water or “nectar” longer than 72 hours.
Adults - have a bill longer than three-quarters of an inch and may have some bright color on the head or neck. They have visible/long tail feathers (unless caught by a cat). If the birds eyes are closed and/or the feathers are puffed and the bird looks like a “cottonball”, you will need to warm the bird before feeding.
Hold the bird in the palm of your hand with your thumb covering the tail and wings so the bird can’t fly.
Hold the bird about one inch away from a light bulb (a goose neck lamp works well) until eyes open and feathers are sleek on the body (usually about 3-5 minutes).
If the bird starts to open its’ mouth to breathe, it is too hot. Be careful, do not OVERHEAT.
HOW TO FEED:
Prepare a sugar water solution by mixing 1 teaspoon of sugar (no honey or artificial sweeteners) with 4 teaspoons of water. With an eyedropper or syringe gently guide the bird’s bill into the tip of the dropper or syringe. Do not squeeze the dropper you may drown the bird. If the bird is eating his tongue can be seen moving and bubbles will be seen in the liquid. If the bird gasps, or bubbles are seen at the side of the mouth, STOP, let the bird calm down and try again.
Offer sugar water every thirty minutes until help can be reached.
Birds have a poor sense of smell and will not abandon their young if they have been touched by people.
Hatching Hummingbirds - ( 0-9 days)
Baby hummingbirds are born the size of a plump raisin. They have no downy feathers. They have yellow straw-like strands down the middle of their back. If they are very young their short bill is yellow progressing to black as they get older. Their eyes are closed and their bodies are black/gray. At this age, they cannot regulate their body temperature. The female hummingbird sits on (broods) the babies to maintain their body temperature and keep them warm.
IF YOU FIND A HATCHLING HUMMINGBIRD, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED IT! GET HELP IMMEDIATELY.
Try to keep the baby in the nest if possible.
If not, line a plastic margarine cup with tissue and keep the baby warm (this is essential) by placing it under a gooseneck lamp about 5 inches away from the bulb.
Do not overheat the bird. If it starts open-mouth breathing or its neck is outstretched, it is too hot. Overheating can kill the
Keep the baby warmed to an outside temperature—between 85—90 degrees.
Nestling Hummingbirds (10-15 days)
Baby hummingbirds begin developing “pin” feathers (they look like porcupine quills) at approximately 10 days of age. Normally one sees two tiny beaks sticking up above the nest. Mom will stop sitting on (brooding) her babies at this age. She no longer broods them at night as well. The babies can now maintain their own body temperature. Many people think that the mother has abandoned her babies when she no longer sits on them. This is usually not the case. If you have doubts about abandonment, PLEASE WATCH THE NEST CONTINUOUSLY FOR ONE-HOUR FOR THE RETURN OF THE MOTHER. She will fly in to feed them, which takes only 3-5 seconds, 4-6 times an hour. In our experience, mother hummingbirds normally do not abandon their young unless something
has happened to the female.
Baby hummingbirds use silence in the nest as a defense against predators. If the babies are vocalizing by constantly “peeping” for more than 10 -15 minutes they are in trouble (starving) and need help immediately. Silent babies are usually healthy babies!
If they have fallen out of the nest, gently pick them up, check to be sure there are no injuries and carefully place them back in the nest. Once again watch for mom’s return. (Always check the nest first for ants or other insects that may be attacking the babies). If there is a problem with insects, an artificial nest can be constructed.
After placing them back in the nest, it’s important to watch and see that the female continues to feed her young
If, after monitoring the nest site, it has been determined that the babies are actually abandoned and have to be rescued and readily open their mouth, CAREFULLY drop three drops of sugar water (see adult recipe) into their mouth. Sugar water accidentally dripped onto feathers must be completely wiped off immediately.
If the babies do not open their mouths, gently guide the birds’ beak into the tip of an eyedropper or syringe full of sugar water for feeding. (See adult feeding instructions)
Offer sugar water every 30 minutes until help can be obtained.
Do not feed sugar water or “nectar” longer than 72 hours.
Pre-Fledglings (16-21 days)
Pre–fledgling hummingbirds are fully feathered, have very short, stubby tail feathers and a bill less than 1/2 inch long. They are most often found on the ground. Once again, if you know where the nest is, please put them back and watch for mom’s return.
After placing them back in the nest, it’s important to watch and see that the female continues to feed her young.
If they need to be rescued and open their mouth readily, CAREFULLY drop 5 drops of sugar water into their mouth. Sugar water accidentally dripped onto feathers must be completely wiped off immediately.
If the babies do not open their mouths, gently guide the birds beak into the tip of an eyedropper or syringe full of sugar water
for feeding. (See adult feeding instructions)
Feed every 30 minutes until help can be obtained.
Do not feed sugar water or “nectar” longer than 72 hours.
Whenever you handle a hummingbird, always wash your hands, before and after working with the bird.
CONSTRUCTING AN ARTIFICIAL NEST
Many times the original nest site cannot be located, or it may be too high to access. In addition, the entire nest/nestlings may have been displaced from the site by tree trimming or inclement weather. If the mother hummingbird is seen and/or is continuing to care for the babies on the ground, an artificial nest can be constructed. Here are the recommended steps and materials:
Small margarine container (poke holes in the bottom to allow for drainage), small tupperware container (again poke
holes) or grocery strawberry/tomato basket.
Tissue or Toilet paper.
Line the container with tissue or toilet paper up to an inch from the top of the container. The female may not feed
her young if they are placed in the bottom of the new nest. In the wild, she will perch on the nest while feeding or even hover if necessary, therefore, the babies need to be easily accessible to the mother.
Place the “nest” in the closest tree/shrub that the baby was found near. The artificial “nest” must be placed in an area that was close to the original nest site or in close proximity to the location of the female hummingbird. Moving a “nest” from your front yard to your back yard (or vice versa) will most likely be unsuccessful.
Place the “nest” in a shady area and protected as much as possible from foul weather. If rain occurs and the “nest”
becomes wet, the tissue will need to be changed. Soggy tissue will result in wet, cold baby hummingbirds.
Place the “nest” away from any dogs or cats (keep cats indoors if possible).
Place the “nest” high up off the ground to avoid predators.
“Nests” can be nailed to trees, hung by ribbon on a branch, (use ribbon, not string so the female does not become intangled while feeding the young), zip tied or even taped (Duct tape) to a new site.
The “nest” has to be upright, steady and secure so the female feels comfortable tending to her babies.
If you have the babies AND the nest in your possession you can do the following:
The nest and young can be relocated if the babies are not cold or injured.
Cut out a portion of an egg carton that would contain one egg. If possible, carefully poke holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Place the nest securely in the egg holder. Normally a hummingbird nest fits perfectly in this space.
Be careful that the space is not too tight, babies need room to grow.
Place the nest back at the original nest site or as close as possible to the original nest site.
Use zip ties or Duct tape to secure the nest. The “nest” has to be upright, steady and secure so the female feels comfortable. In the wild, she will perch on the nest while feeding or even hover if necessary, therefore, the babies need to be easily accessible to the mother.
It is of utmost importance when utilizing an artificial nest or new nest site that one monitors the babies until the mother has located the nestlings and you witness her feeding them. If she has not responded to the babies or new nest location within an hour, follow the previous rescue instructions and seek help from a wildlife rehabilitation center.
To find a wildlife rehabilitator/center near you visit:
International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council
National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
Wildlife Information Directory
Contact your State Fish and Game or Natural Resources Dept.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
If you need additional help with a hummingbird you have found, visit our Resources section or call our Emergency Wildlife Hotline at 619-225-9202.
Niagara Falls, NY
USDA zone 6a/6b
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
You need to find a rehabber right away! It is illegal to do what you are doing and tho you may be well intentioned you could be causing more harm that good. Hummingbirds diets are more complex than just sugar the adults feed the babies a variety of insects as well for protien and strong growth.Please use the link that Penny provided to get in contact with a rehabber right away!
any update on your labor of love this morning, bob? how is your little patient? I think feeding a young bird is trickier than feeding an adult. have you scoped out any of the links or phone #s for a rehabber in your area? I hope your little one makes it.
The bird seems to be doing much better. The nearest rehabber is over sixty miles away, and seems much more interested in owls and raptors than hummingbirds. I had this same problem several years ago when I came across an injured crow. There seems to be some sort of bird elitism. I have been feeding her the store-bought nectar, and she is just about ready to go. My daughter is catching gnats for her (thank goodness for the plum tree!) and we figure she'll be ready to go within a week. No injuries as far as we can tell, just a young bird who fell out of the nest, and needed to get bigger and stronger. She needs a few more tailfeathers still, but they are coming in as well.
This is why I almost never offer any rehab information except the link to the Project Wildlife page. What most people really want is validation, not advice. They will do what they want to do, because in today's culture everyone's an expert, and personal entitlement is more important than truth.
Bob, you were offered excellent suggestions, but they were apparently too much trouble to bother with. If you have no intention of following good advice, please don't ask for it. The other fine folks here don't deserve that sort of disrespect.
Your hummer chick is probably going to die in the next few days, and you will probably tell your daughter that it wasn't your fault. And you'll be lying. Yes, I'm making an example of you--suck it up and learn.
Hummingbirds, Pigeons, Doves, Hawks, Owls, Killdeer and Quail need special formulas or feeding techniques. Try to get these birds to a rehabilitation facility as soon as possible. Note: Hummingbirds babies fed sugar water or "hummingbird nectar" AND Hawks/Owls fed hamburger, or other meats, for more than 24 hours, may develop crippling deformities.
Additionally--one must realize that during the early life of any creature, far more nutrients are needed than simply carbohydrates as a source of energy fuel. Proteins, minerals, fatty acids are all required. The hummingbird mother supplies these by feeding predigested insects directly into the crop of the young bird. Catching gnats and feeding them to a young bird is insufficient as the bird is probably not able to totally digest them. The young of many species, birds included, have lower gastric acid contents and less well developed enzyme systems for the breakdown of insects - so unless you can provide a way of digesting them before feeding them to an immature bird, it's akin to giving your 2 year old a coconut and saying Bon Appetit.
Without those proteins and other nutrients, the heart and other muscles cannot develop properly, bones are weakened, and the digestive tract begins to breakdown.
Wildlife rehabilitators spend significant amounts of time learning how to care for immature and injured creatures. This is why it's illegal to care for wild animals on your own. Without the knowledge and supplies to adequately care for these creatures, they're being doomed to death of a life of disease and deformity.
This message has been edited by AnnieNemus on Jul 14, 2006 7:49 AM
Harsh?? How do you think I felt when I called a rehabber over 60 miles away and was told that they were only interested in owls and raptors??!!! I have been trying to do the right thing, the bird is getting stronger every day, and I am trying to keep him from becoming cat food. I have read this column every day, looking for and finding excellent advice. The problem seems to be that many people believe that everyone except themselves are incompetent and tell everyone who wants help to run away to an "expert." I am not a complete idiot, and am not about to turn the bird loose until it is strong and healthy, and I'll be damned if I'll drive all day to some bunch of uncaring "experts." I am not simply seeking "validation," but help and advice that is useful and beneficial for the bird. Most of the advice from this forum seemed reasonable, and I have tried to follow as much as I could. However, I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the crow experience (the ASPCA took the bird, basically telling me they would kill is nicely for me, after no other agencies would take the crow at all) and I fear the same for the hummer. If the bird were getter weaker instead of stronger, I would probably be forced to drive out and beg for mercy, but my own efforts (and the help from some friends who are bird breeders) have strengthened the bird to where he can probably be released within a week.
Quoting Larry "Bob, you were offered excellent suggestions, but they were apparently too much trouble to bother with. If you have no intention of following good advice, please don't ask for it. The other fine folks here don't deserve that sort of disrespect. "
Larry, I WAS offered excellent suggestions, and I followed up on those that I could. Your superior tone indicates a great deal about about your personality and lack of respect and understanding . Yes, suck it up yourself. I don't deserve that kind of disrespect either. Perhaps you live in an area where rehabbers are more inclined to the less romantic species, but I am doing my best in a different area. He is not going to die by my hand, and I will be sure it is strong enought to avoid cats when I release it.
Thanks to all of the other fine people who shared their excellent advice and suggestions. Please be assured that they were taken to heart, followed up when possible, and it wasn't too much trouble. If I didn't give a damn I wouldn't have signed up for this forum to get help.
Keep in mind, Nektar has to be replaced every 2-3 hours and the feeder must be cleaned with each replacement. Because of it's nutritional content, it supports bacterial growth rapidly once it's reconstituted.
I don't care what names you call me. You will note that the only thing I've called you is "wrong."
You appear to have called one rehabber, then given up. Or maybe you meant that you'd called one in the past for a crow, so you didn't bother this time. That's not everything you could have done--there are dozens of hummingbird rehabbers, many listed online, and any one of them would have offered expert advice by phone. Yes, they really are experts, with training, certification, and experience, not to mention permits so they can keep sick birds legally.
You were advised to stop using red dye, yet you refused. Why? Because you weren't going to waste valuable sugar when you already had a supply of red junk? Red dye is teratogenic, and it's especially bad for developing chicks.
But the biggest mistake you made was to decide this chick needed your help, and deny its mother access to feed it properly. A hummingbird chick that can fly has left the nest normally, but it won't be a strong flyer for the first day or two and will be fed by its mother for at least another week. All it needed was to be set on a twig out of reach of cats, then left alone.
I recognize that you meant well, and you did the right thing by asking for advice. But you waited a long time to ask, and then you chose to ignore what you were told (call a rehabber, stop feeding red dye). The instructions from Project Wildlife aren't idle opinions to be disregarded in favor of your own notions; they're the result of years of scientific study and hard-won veterinary experience.
At this point, the bird's best hope is likely in putting it back outdoors in the hope its mother will resume her care and the sugar-only diet hasn't yet caused permanent damage.
I just want to add one little comment here about rehabbers in various areas. So far I have never needed one but I have contacted every agency, vet, rehabber I could find in western NY for a couple of years in the event I ever needed to contact one out of need and there isn't anyone in the western NY area who takes hummers. There isn't even a bander anywhere close. Unless things have changed since last summer our closest bander is in Michigan and has to come over the border into Windsor, Ontario down to Niagara Falls, Ont. and then back over into the US can take a very long time when the traffic is backed up at the borders. So I know that it is difficult for everyone to find someone who is trained in the care of hummers. There are still a lot of people here that are involved in nature projects, wildlife preserves etc. that don't think there is a big enough hummer population here to worry about banding, rehabbers, etc. They are considered rare, or occasional. I contacted one wildlife center that also employs vets and rehabbers for every critter under the sun but hummers. I was told they are just too small and occasional to deal with.
At this point, thank God I have never had to find a rehabber but in all honesty, I don't know what I would do if or when the occasion does arise.
Niagara Falls, NY
USDA zone 6a/6b
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
Lanny-- FYI I did not deny the bird access to its mother. It was given to me in a box by some students who had found it and knew I was the only teacher on campus that would even try to take care of it. We have no idea where the original nest was, and the birds wings had not grown the flight feathers yet. They are nearly grown out now. He is off the red stuff, and has been for the past several days. He has a bad foot- perhaps a birth defect, perhaps an injury from the fall from the nest that did not heal properly. I DID call the rehabber, who was not helpful at all, and did not even have a name of someone to recommend me to. I called a couple of vets around my area that specialize in birds, but they are parakeet/parrot finch/canary vets, you know, seed-eaters. The biggest help (aside from this forum) has come from a local bird shop where the owner is also a breeder. In addition to the granulated sugar water, my daughter has caught small insects (not ants) and ground them into the sugar solution. The bird gets stronger every day, and can fly for short spurts around the living room. However, it has a difficult time landing, probably becasue of the bad foot. We are hoping that it will get strong enough to release within the next week or so. If this was the wrong thing, then I would do it again, since without these "wrong" actions the bird would have been dead by now.
Bob~ I sympathise with your situtation. I had a young hummingbird handed over to me on July 4th. It's not a baby, but the right wing was injured and just hung from the shoulder. Unlike your location, I am extremely lucky to have a rehabber fairly nearby. She has only dealt with a few hummies, but knew how to wrap the bird in paper tape to hold the wing against the body - a splint. I offered to keep him (her?) for the two weeks the splint is supposed to stay on.
But before this rehabber could be reached (she was away on the 4th), I emailed another rehabber who has helped me before (with a pair of newborn Carolina Wrens.) She assisted me via the internet and telephone. I've never met her as she lives in an adjoining state, but she was an angel of mercy.
She told me that hummies can digest protein from mealworms, but not the outer layer of hardened skin, or chitin. You can buy mealworms (mealies) from pet shops, some convenience stores (they have them as fishing bait), etc. I was told to cut off the mealworm's head, then press out the body contents with the flat of the knife. A small amount of this material can be added to regular nectar (sugar water.) I did this for three days before being able to make up a formula which has more nutrients in it. I've been keeping any food concoctions in the fridge, drawing up only a small amount per feeding into a plastic syringe I got from the pharmacist at my local drugstore. The bird readily puts its beak into the opening and slurps up some of the liquid. In an hour or two the syringe is empty and I clean it well, rinse, then get some more fresh formula.
If you would like my rehabber's name, phone no., & email addy, please mail me privately.
Good luck, both to you and your daughter. I'm so sorry your kind hearts have been put to the test with this situation. Until hearing from you and from Penny, I had no idea there were so few rehabbers in certain areas. Which part of the country do you live in?
Western NC mountains
Zone 6b - Sunset Zone 36 - Heat Zone 4,5,6
peace, brothers! while I think that there's no better place than a topic specific forum like this to discuss all aspects of birding and gardening, and that much is to be gained from public discourse particularly when we disagree, I feel obliged to remind everyone that the most important thing is to respond in such a way that it will never discourage newcomers and lurkers from posting.