Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Yea! Hummingbirds Eat Mosquitoes

This summer we put several sizes of bird baths in our backyard. Each evening we spray them out and refill with fresh water. After a few weeks, we now have regular daily bird visitors (blue jays, cardinals, doves, wrens, finches and such). As soon as this occurred, the insect pests in our rose garden of four dozen plants began to rapidly diminish. Hurray for the bird baths! We hadn’t expected such a bonus.

Next, we put out a few hummingbird feeders. We bought a half dozen of the small type that can be easily and thoroughly cleaned daily (not bottles) so that we can clean and dry out the three we bring in each night as we put out the other three freshly charged ones without wasting sugar. 

Once again, a bonus later became apparent. The mosquito population began to diminish rapidly. Not the tiny Asian tiger mosquitoes (ground hugging ankle biters), but the non-invasive regular blood suckers. We got curious about this and found that the hummingbird bird gets protein by eating small spiders, which are plucked from their webs, and insects, which are caught on the wing. The birds often are seen feeding amidst swarms of small insects or catching those attracted to oozing tree sap. It is estimated that about 25 percent of their diet is insects.”

Note: “Keeping its miniature power plant fueled requires the hummingbird to feed every ten to fifteen minutes. However, since the bird cannot maintain such a demanding feeding program on a twenty-four-hour basis, it deals with the problem by going into a hibernationlike state at night. While in this condition, known as torpor, it is unable to move. Its body temperature drops to that of the surrounding air and its energy rate drops to one-twentieth of the daytime level. Even at this lower level, the energy used by the bird is about the same as that of a human exercising vigorously. Although most animals cannot be awakened from torpor quickly, the hummingbird's arousal is almost instantaneous.
Sugar is the main energy source for the hummingbird, usually in the form of nectar from tubular-shaped flowers. The easiest liquid to use in hummingbird feeders is a sugar-water mixture that is one part sugar to four or five parts water. Most birders recommend that it not be mixed stronger because too much sugar may cause liver problems for the birds, and the natural nectar they get from flowers is usually no more than 20 to 25 percent sugar. If it is not sipped away by the hummers, this sugar water also will need to be changed at least every three days to keep it from fermenting, and the feeder scrubbed at each filling to prevent molds from growing.
No substitutes should be used for plain white table sugar. Honey should NEVER be used in place of sugar. Honey poses several bacterial and fungal threats to birds including botulism, candiasis and others. When using sucrose, some of these threats still exist, but to a much less critical potential than when honey is used.
When you attract hummingbirds to a feeder, be prepared to see them fighting and squabbling among themselves over the feeders or territory. Occasionally one male will decide the feeder belongs to him and he will dive-bomb or try to chase away any other hummer that might try to sip at the same feeder. But no matter how bad-tempered they may appear to be with each other, we can still appreciate the unique characteristics that make them such a delightful member of the bird world.”

Note: I recommend these feeders:

Note: Do not use soap to clean feeders. It inevitably leaves residue that has a negative effect. White vinegar is fine.

Note:  Painting the metal pole or the hanger holding the feeder with vegetable oil thwarts ants. If this has to be done too frequently, consider Tangle-foot, an extremely sticky grease product used to coat the inside of insect traps (and has other uses).

Do not use red dye. It is potentially harmful and is completely unnecessary if the feeder has properly  colored part that they sip from.

How hummingbird eats mosquitoes 
(9 seconds)

Hummingbirds hunt and eat insects as well as nectar
(3 1/2 minutes)

Hummingbird Babies (8minutes):
(11 minutes):