the heroic life of hummingbirds

Are Hummingbirds Endangered? The Heroic Life of Hummingbirds

The hummingbird is one of the more difficult birds to see, even if they may be a bird watcher's dream.

Are Hummingbirds Endangered The Heroic Life of Hummingbirds

When individuals see hummingbirds at their bird feeders, it's such a joy. So, it should be no surprise that we, as bird enthusiasts, go to great pains to customize our bird feeders for these beautiful birds to keep them coming back for more.

The hummingbird is the most agile bird and dates back to the nineteenth century. More current data estimates that there are well over 330 different species of hummingbird.

However, despite being the world's second-largest family of bird species, about 10% of hummingbirds are threatened. 

Losing and destroying their habitats is a big reason why they are in the state they are in. Climate change could affect the food supply and migration routes of hummingbirds, which is another big worry for people who work to protect them.

Having bird feeders in your home can help feed these beautiful birds and keep them healthy.

The Cause of the Hummingbirds' Decline

The hummingbird population is going down for the same reasons that bird populations are going down in general. The main reasons for this are the loss of habitat and the destruction of these areas as a whole.

Are Hummingbirds Endangered The Heroic Life of Hummingbirds

Not surprisingly, the issue of possible climate change and its effects are also mentioned as major reasons why their numbers are going down. This is mostly because it affects their ability to get food and their normal migration routes.

Along with some of the worst weather ever seen in the past few years, there has been a huge change in the time of year when seasonal plants bloom.

So this makes hummingbirds confused as it takes away their usual food source. It also causes other animals to eat the same plants and flowers, which means there is less food for the hummingbird.

Eight Critically Endangered Hummingbirds

Colorful Puffleg (Eriocnemis mirabilis)

This hummingbird species lives in a very small part of the northern Andes mountains in Colombia. They have a black beak and pink feet, a green gorget, a blue belly, and red and gold under their tails. To help this species stay alive, a reserve has been set up for them.

Gorgeted Puffleg (Eriocnemis isabellae)

These beautiful hummingbirds live in Choco, which is in the southwestern part of Columbia. They have green gorget, blue feathers, and white feather puffs on their legs. The species is in danger because much of its habitat has been destroyed and turned into coca farms because of the drug trade.

Sapphire-Bellied (Lepidopyga lilliae)

On the Caribbean coast of Colombia, there are less than 250 adult Sapphire-Bellied hummingbirds left. Most of them live in Isla de Salamanca National Park or Ciénega Grande de Santa Marta. They have green bills, and their feathers above and below are blue. They also have a blue-black tail with two forks.

Dusky Starfrontlet (Coeligena orina)

It was thought that this species of hummingbird had died out. But fortunately, in 2004, they were found again in the Colibri del Sol Bird Reserve. The bird is black, but it looks metallic. 

Turquoise-Throated Puffleg or Godin's Puffleg (Eriocnemis godini)

Since the 1800s, no one has seen these beautiful hummingbirds. If any are left, there aren't many, sadly. This hummingbird is mostly golden green, with a bluish-green rump, a light blue throat, and violet under tail coverts. They have blue-black tails with two forks. The birds lived in Ecuador and Columbia, where they was from.

​Short-Crested Coquette (Lophornis brachylophus)

This hummingbird can only be found in Mexico, and they only live in a small part of the Sierra Madre del Sur. Unfortunately, their home is not protected and is being cleared to make room for farms.

Black-Breasted Puffleg (Eriocnemis nigrivestis)

This beautiful hummingbird can only be found on the Northwest slopes of the Pichincha volcano in Ecuador. They like to live in high places and never go lower than 9,000 feet. They have purple gorgets and white leg puffs. The male is dark, and the female is brownish-green with a blueish rump.

Juan Fernandez Firecrown (Sephanoides fernandensis)

This bird is only found on the island of Robinson Crusoe, which is part of Chile. They have a reddish-yellow crown and dark brown flight feathers. The male is almost all red, and the female is green and white with a blue patch on her head. The male and female are so different that people used to think they were two different species. Unfortunately, they are in danger because of the spread of an invasive plant, cats, and the other hummingbird that lives on the island.

Do Hummingbirds Have Any Predators?

Yes, hummingbirds have a lot of predators. Even though hummingbirds might be the fastest birds in the world, that doesn't mean they are safe from danger. Because hummingbirds are so small, there are a lot of things that eat them.

Are Hummingbirds Endangered The Heroic Life of Hummingbirds

Reptiles like snakes and lizards are happy to go after and eat hummingbirds. Large frogs and even fish that jump out of the water to catch their prey are also happy to do the same.

Other birds, like small birds of prey like kestrels, shrikes, corvids, and roadrunners, will also kill and eat hummingbirds.

Don't forget about invertebrates, either. Big praying mantises will grab a small hummingbird flying by, and hummingbirds can even get stuck in the sticky webs of orb-weaver spiders.

Even at night, hummingbirds are not safe because bats and owls will eat any that are sleeping.

What Would Happen if There Were No Hummingbirds?

If hummingbirds died out, mites might die out, too, because they wouldn't be able to move from flower to flower. Then the flowers die out, too, because the hummingbirds and mites are the only ones who can spread pollen.

Are Hummingbirds Endangered The Heroic Life of Hummingbirds

Pollinators add $24 billion to the US economy, and some estimates say they add $250 billion to the world economy as a whole. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even some lizards and mammals spread pollen to different plants so they can reproduce. 

This helps the agricultural system work. Science is now showing that these animals are also important to our health, not just for the environment.

This is why it is so important that we do our part to help preserve and keep hummingbirds, and other pollinators from going extinct.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a Hummingbird?

A hummingbird usually lives for five years, but some have been known to live for more than ten. Like any other animal, hummingbirds face threats to their survival, some of which are natural and some of which are made by us, humans.

Some have lived for more than a decade. The wild hummingbird that lived the longest was 12 years and two months old. With the right food and care, hummingbirds can live up to 14 years in zoos and other places where they are kept as pets. In the wild, they move quickly from place to place in search of food.

Why Do We Need Hummingbirds?

The hummingbird help make our planet's plants more diverse by not only pollinating the same species but also bringing pollen to different species of flowers and pollinating them with their own pollen. This is one of the main reasons why we need them -- just like we need bees for our planet to survive.

This link between a certain kind of hummingbird and a certain kind of flower helps us understand climate change and habitat loss in a very clear way.

Since hummingbirds have such a unique diet, any change in their environment has a direct effect on their population. Scientists can see on a smaller scale how fragile the links in our ecosystem are by looking at how hummingbirds and plants work together. 

If one species of hummingbird goes extinct, many different kinds of plants will soon follow, and then all the animals that live in and get food from those plants will go extinct as well.

But the hummingbird gives us reason to hope that the opposite is true. When one species acts in a good way, it can have a positive effect on the other species around it, helping them grow beyond their own needs and making the world a better place for everyone.

Scientists think that hummingbirds pollinate some plants because flying insects don't do well in wet, lowland areas. 

Each kind of hummingbird is also different, and some like certain flowers more than others. This is why these birds can live together and don't fight with other pollinators: they are tied to the ornithophilous flowers that they eat. 

The evolution and change of each species of hummingbird, including the length and shape of their beaks and the size of their bodies, are linked to the length, shape, and amount of nectar in certain plants. 

This makes it possible for many different kinds of hummingbirds to live and for many different kinds of plants to continue to grow.

Are Hummingbirds Good for the Environment?

Are Hummingbirds Endangered The Heroic Life of Hummingbirds

Yes, hummingbirds are good for the environment. Pollen is carried by hummingbirds as they move from plant to plant. Hummingbirds add a splash of color to our landscapes because they pollinate the native wildflowers in parks and the plants in your garden.

Hummingbirds get nectar from many different kinds of flowers, but each kind of hummingbird has its own specialties, so different kinds of hummingbirds like different flowers. This helps explain why these beautiful birds can live together without killing each other.

Back to blog