I came upon this sad image on Facebook yesterday. It read: “A grisly find on my front lawn this morning. Their protruding tongues look like a case of fungal infection from dirty feeders.
If you want to feed these flying jewels, please remember to change the nectar every 3-5 days (daily in hot weather) and wash feeder weekly (more in the heat). Use a solution of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water to feed them and stay away from red food dye and pre made box “nectar”. Rest gently little gems.” ~J.K.
She is located on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada 30 miles from where they are experimenting on 5G right now at UBC. They started in 2017 according to this article in the Vancouver Sun.
I was in communication with the author of the top photo, to get permission first, and to get an exact Identification of the birds. She said this is an Anna’s hummingbird, but could not get the scarlet reds of the head feathers in the top photo to show up for the camera. This 14 second video shows how the head feathers refract light differently at different angles.
I spoke on the phone with Dan Lebbin from the Hummingbird Society to find out exactly what the we can do to help (and not harm) God’s good gift of our birdlife, in this case hummingbirds. I also wanted to ask if there was any new disease or upswing in reported deaths of these amazing beauties. He said no and warned that cats, pesticides and unclean feeders were the greatest threats. One claw from a cat can puncture a lung and kill, but yard spraying doses can also kill. When I spoke with him I had not seen the Vancouver Sun 5G article yet.
I personally think it could be 5G that is causing harm to these birds (and honeybees, other pollinators, and insects), so I want to bring awareness.
4 Steps to Help Hummingbirds
1. Feed Them Naturally with Native Flowers and Plants
Hummingbirds are specialized for nectar-eating, evident by long bills and grooved tongues ideal for probing flowers. Sugary nectar supplies fast energy and makes up 90 percent of a hummingbird’s diet.
Create a local food source for hummingbirds:
- Grow native plants like Agastache, bergamot, coneflower (echinacea), trumpet vine, columbine, honeysuckle, and hummingbird sage (red or orange tubular flowers) which provide much more nectar than hybrids and exotics.
- Add native flowering plants, vines, shrubs, and trees to your yard. Check out this handy native plants database.
- Group similar plants together and choose species with different blooming periods so that there will be a steady supply of flowers nearly year round.
- Encourage your neighbors to make their yards hummingbird friendly. An entire corridor of habitat is much more valuable than scattered patches.
2. Properly Feed Hummingbirds with Backyard Feeders
Backyard feeders are especially important during fall and spring migration. Following these steps ensures a safe and nutritious stopover for hummingbirds:
Directions for making safe sugar water:
Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water (for example, 1 cup of sugar with 4 cups of water), and bring to a boil to kill any bacteria or mold present. Cool and fill feeder. Extra sugar water may be stored in a refrigerator. Red dye should not be added. Cook time 10 min.
- Clean the feeders with a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts water about once a week.
- Never use honey, artificial sweeteners, or red dye.
- Hang your feeders in the shade to prevent the sugar solution from fermenting. Hang feeders far enough apart that the hummingbirds cannot see one another to prevent one bird from dominating the rest.
- Change the sugar water regularly – before it gets cloudy, or about twice a week in warm weather.
- Rinse your feeder well with warm water three times before refilling with sugar solution.
- Find out when the first hummingbird sightings occur each spring, and hang your feeders up a couple of weeks before that. In fall, keep your feeders up for two weeks after you see the last visitor using it.
3. Insects Help, Pesticides Harm
Audubon suggests that hummingbirds need protein from pollen and insects to maintain their bodies and grow new feathers. Like tree and barn swallows, hummingbirds are agile aerial hunters, and can snatch small insects from the air. Hummingbirds also scoop up insects from spider webs and leaves in a swoop. Think about how pesticides harm us and the birds.
- Eliminate pesticides. Spiders and insects (arthropods) are an important part of an adult bird’s diet, and young hummingbirds still in the nest are almost exclusively fed arthropods.
- Hang a basket with overripe fruit or banana peels close to a hummingbird feeder to attract tiny fruit flies.
Glyphosate is now being banned in more and more U.S. cities, but there are so many other pesticides to consider as well.
4. Think About Windows
If you have a lot of birdlife around your home and have noticed birds hitting your windows from time to time, here are some ways to help from the American Bird Conservancy.
“The earth is moved from its position by the weight of a tiny bird resting upon it.” ~Leonardo da Vinci