[Tweeters] Thoughts on Winter Feeding of Hummingbirds

Mark Myers myersmark7 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 13 13:01:24 PST 2018

I just wanted to chime in on this conversation since some of the ideas
being floated here are concerning.
Most important, to believe that the survival of our regional Anna's
hummingbirds (or any bird species) in the winter is dependent upon humans
offering/maintaining feeders is very flawed. Where is the evidence to
support that belief? As was mentioned in a response posted today, many
birds, including hummers, glean small inverts from seemingly bare trees and
plants. If you just watch your kinglets and creepers, they expend a lot of
energy working the branches and trunks of trees in search of food. They
wouldn't do that if they weren't finding inverts. Us humans can't see
those inverts, but birds have pretty good search images.
The reality is that hummers are equally adept at finding food in the
absence of feeders. If they don't, they will perish, but that's true for
all animals.
I've been banding Anna's (and other hummers) for many years in our region,
during all seasons. I've never experienced a hummer that is in poor body
weight or condition even in the middle of winter. And, I routinely
recapture birds that I banded at my house years ago. And, my feeders go
dry on a regular basis when I travel.
I realize hummers bring out strong emotions in those of us that watch them
and feed them. But, they are probably one of the hardiest of birds. If
our feeders run dry, they will not die (it's possible some may travel
elsewhere to find food, but their absence doesn't mean they're dead...).
There have been questions as to whether offering probiotics or Gerber
supplements may be harmful to wild hummers. My answer: if you can't answer
that question with 100% certainty, DON'T OFFER probiotics or Gerber
supplements in the nectar. I can say with 100% certainty that if you don't
offer them, the birds won't be harmed.
My 2+ cents.

Mark Myers,
Bothell, WA
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