[Tweeters] Thoughts on Winter Feeding of Hummingbirds

Rick Taylor taylorrl at outlook.com
Thu Dec 13 22:22:35 PST 2018


Here is some local data on Anna’s Hummingbirds populations from the Edmond’s CBC. The Edmonds CBC has been run annually since 1984. There were NO observations until 1998 when one was observed during count week. In 2017 we counted 249 Anna’s Hummingbirds. Data by year is below:
1998 - 1
1999 - 3
2000 - 6
2001 - 7
2002 - 5
2003 - 17
2004 - 8
2005 - 19
2006 - 49
2007 - 22
2008 - 28
2009 - 31
2010 - 40
2011 - 91
2012 - 77
2013 - 133
2014 - 134
2015 - 167
2016 - 161
2017 - 249

The growth in numbers seems to indicated that they are making it through the winters just fine.


Rick Taylor
Everett, WA

From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Mark Myers
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2018 1:01 PM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Thoughts on Winter Feeding of Hummingbirds

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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