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Bird Moms

Hummingbirds Moms Prove That Size Doesn't Matter

It’s mighty bold to single out a single bird type and declare them the best mom ever. Right?

But let’s just see how strong a case can be made that hummingbirds are indeed the best bird moms ever!

First and foremost, mother hummingbirds have to deal with the worst bird fathers ever. Her mate will play absolutely no role in helping her to build the nest, incubate the eggs or feed the young. He’s not only an absentee father, he can also be a bully that makes her life more difficult every time she comes to the nectar feeder. The odds are stacked against her right from the start!

Typically, birds that migrate long distances only produce one brood per year, but not the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Being the sole parent, you would think one nesting would be enough, but no, she takes the hard road and will typically have two broods each summer.

Each of these nestings will take about 45 days from the start of nest construction to the time her youngsters leave the nest. And then she starts it all over again. This three month, non-stop commitment to her next generation is truly amazing! And amazingly successful! Despite raising her family alone, female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have one of the highest nesting success rates of any Neotropical bird that migrants to North America.

Besides all of the hard work, another factor in this successful nesting rate is the precision and care that a mother hummingbird puts into the construction of her highly camouflaged nest. It takes about a week for her to build a walnut-sized nest. She makes hundreds of trips to collect enough plant down, spider webs and lichens to finish it. Then she fills the completed nest with two of the world’s smallest eggs…about the size of small blueberries. But even with these tiny eggs, mom (weighing in at a miniscule 1/10 of an ounce) only weighs about 8 times more than each of the eggs she lays. A feat unto itself!

Need we go on? It’s time to declare hummingbirds as the best bird moms ever! And it is time to make sure to share the wonder, awe and joy of hummingbirds in your own backyard with your own best mom this Mother’s Day, too!

To hear more about the best bird moms ever, be sure to check out the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Centered Podcast episode, “Hummingbirds: It’s All About Mom!” Hosts John and Brian will share more facts and stories about amazing hummingbird mothers.


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What You Need to Know

You may have heard about avian influenza (or “bird flu”) and the development of this disease in North America. At this point in time, wildlife and health experts say you may continue feeding the birds. Here are the facts as we know them today.

Since Fall of 2021, a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) has been detected in numerous outbreaks in North America. It is a naturally-occurring virus especially prevalent among wild aquatic birds such as ducks, geese and shorebirds and has been shown to affect commercial and backyard poultry with high mortality.

However, according to the Cornell University Wildlife Health Lab, “Passerines [song birds] do not seem susceptible to HPAI and are not thought to play a significant role in spreading this virus. We are not recommending removal of bird feeders at this point.”

And the Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases at U Penn Vet School states, “According to the USDA, there is no evidence that birdfeeders, or the birds that frequent them, contribute to the spread of HPAI.”

The US Department of Agriculture further states, “HPAI viruses and the illness they cause are not commonly found in wild birds…removing backyard feeders is not somethings USDA specifically recommends to prevent avian influenza unless you also take care of poultry.” Also, the Government of Canada affirms, “The use of bird feeders is still safe but they should be removed from areas that are open to poultry and other domestic animals.”

In addition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health Agency of Canada currently deem H5N1 to be of low human health risk.

To practice the hobby of bird feeding safely and to ensure the birds’ overall health, it is always recommended you clean your bird feeders regularly with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water.


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