[Tweeters] Thoughts on Winter Feeding of Hummingbirds

creinsch creinsch at comcast.net
Thu Dec 13 16:56:56 PST 2018


I wanted to thank you for writing this.  I had very similar concerns. 
In the past, the folks at HUMNET, including banders, ornithologists and
biologists, have consistently advised against mixing supplements of any
kind into feeder nectar to be offered wild birds.  Rehab facilities that
know how to administer and use supplements may have valid reasons to use
them with captive or injured birds, but the average person with a home
feeder has no reason to.

As to the "evidence" that it does not harm the population of wild birds,
it all appears to be anecdotal: "At the end of last winter it appeared
to me that there were as many Anna's hummingbirds as at the beginning." 
Unless the birds are banded and recaptured, it is absurd to think they
are the same birds.

In my experience most people, at least in the Seattle area, assume that
all hummingbirds are migratory, and are surprised to learn that some are
resident.  Which is to say they take their feeders down in the winter
when they think the birds have left.  I've even read some bizarre advice
that one should take the feeder down in the winter, so that the hummer
is not persuaded to overstay.  This is nuts.  Instinct is much more
persuasive than sugar water.

Charles Reinsch

On 12/13/2018 1:01 PM, Mark Myers wrote:

> 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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