Hummingbirds, despite their incredible agility and speed, aren’t exactly immune to predation. Their relatively delicate frame and small size make them an easy target for many predators who have found their own special ways of catching these little critters.
And trust us, because of how small these birds are, there are a lot of hummingbird predators out there.
If you want to find out a little more about these incredible animals, then you’ll want to check out this little guide that we have put together on the various animals that can hunt and kill this fascinating, unique family of bird species.
There are over 350 species of hummingbird in the world and 15 of them are native to the Unite States. In addition, there are around another 10 that may be seen occasionally here. They are the most unusual bird and you can only really appreciate how small they are when you see them. In fact, they are the smallest species of bird in the world with an average length of 3 inches. That is half the length of a dollar bill.
Hummingbirds are incredible acrobats and are one of the few birds that can fly backwards and even upside down. We know they are attracted to flowers but it isn’t the scent – hummingbirds have no sense of smell. They are attracted by colors, which is why hummingbird feeders are usually bright colors.
This first entry on the list shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Many of us may have even seen or experienced this for ourselves. We’re minding our own business, only to look down at our side and see your favorite fuzzy feline with a small bird twitching in its mouth.
Cats are one of the most common predators of hummingbirds and many small birds and other wildlife. Cats are naturally attracted to small objects that move around quickly and suddenly (it’s the reason that a ball on a string thrown around is so interesting to them).
So naturally, seeing a little floating bird that is the perfect size to be swiped with its paws is going to be too good of an offer for a cat to pass up.
The same goes for feral populations of cats too, who are even more likely to try and hunt hummingbirds, considering that they don’t always have a reliable source of food from an owner. Yep, it’s not just for sport with the cat and kittens out there going around parks and local woodland areas!
This is one of the major issues that cat owners today face, as domestic and feral cats are known to ravage populations of small bird species.
Snakes & Lizards
Reptiles might seem slow, but don’t be fooled. When actively hunting, many snakes and lizard species are deadly predators. Especially to something as small as a hummingbird. Some snake species have enough speed to catch hummingbirds out of the air. Combine that with their often impressive camouflage, and it’s not too surprising that many snakes often chow down on hummingbirds for sustenance.
And if that wasn’t enough for these little birds, many snakes and lizard species will also feed on their eggs if they find their nests.
Birds Of Prey
Given that birds of prey are some of the best-evolved animals for hunting on the wing, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many species of predatory birds will take down and catch a hummingbird or two. However, most hummingbirds usually stay in woodland areas, away from larger open areas where many larger species such as falcons hunt.
However, smaller birds of prey, such as the sharp-shinned hawk, are small enough to fly and navigate amongst forests and woodlands to catch hummingbirds.
Frogs & Amphibians
Now, this one might come as a surprise, but there are several examples where frogs have successfully hunted small birds like hummingbirds. Usually being insectivorous, many frogs will often mistake hummingbirds hovering over the water for the insects that they usually eat, hence why we live in a world where frogs eat birds.
Nature sure is crazy, isn’t it?
Really? The adorable little gray squirrel is a threat to hummingbirds? Well, believe it or not, squirrels aren’t just dedicated nut eaters, but are omnivorous, like many other rodents.
If they can catch a weak or young hummingbird while it is resting, squirrels will usually take their chances. Not only that, but given that squirrels will sometimes perch themselves on hummingbird feeders thinking that there may be nuts or berries there, it’s not too surprising that territory fights will break out.
Okay, things are getting a little ridiculous now. The cats, reptiles, and birds of prey make sense. The amphibians? Maybe a little bit of a stretch, but not unreasonable. Squirrels? That’s starting to push the envelope out.
Now you’re telling us that some of the smallest terrestrial animals on the planet are also able to hunt and kill hummingbirds? Damn, hummingbirds just can’t catch a break, can they?
Well, it’s true. While not every insect is going to have the speed and agility, or even size, to catch a hummingbird, there are several species
(Okay, I know that technically, spiders aren’t insects, but the point still stands!). It turns out that the silk from some larger spider’s spider webs is strong enough to not just catch flies and other insects, but even birds, it turns out.
And, unfortunately for the hummingbird, it too is on the menu! Given that hummingbirds are small and fly, accidentally landing in a spider’s web doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
Although many species of insect can fly, only a few of them have the speed and size to be able to compete with hummingbirds at their own game. And most of those species happen to be dragonflies. This may be something of a stretch, as dragonflies are not known to regularly hunt hummingbirds.
However, given that dragonfly species can be incredibly territorial, hummingbirds that wander into dragonfly territory have been known to be attacked and even killed by a determined dragonfly.
So, from what we’ve shown, it feels like a lot of animals in the animal kingdom seem to have it out for hummingbirds. However, it should also be noted that when it comes to successful hunts, many species of hunters lose a lot more of their hunts than they win.
Hummingbirds are still usually agile and fast enough to avoid being on someone else’s dinner plate. Certainly long enough to have eggs of their own that hatch, to repeat this circle of life all over again.
No, even hummingbirds need to rest. If you are watching them, they will be in the air a lot and feeding but they will also take a break and rest on a branch or twig. They also have to sleep and keep safe at night.
Hummingbirds generally live for 3 – 5 years. The oldest known bird was over 10 years old.
Absolutely. Hummingbirds have great memories and will return to places where they have found a good food source. So if you put out feeders year after year, once you get hummingbirds visiting then it is likely that they will come back. But remember to safe guard them against potential predators.