Hummingbird First-Aid: Babies
Baby Hummingbirds need specialized first-aid. Baby hummingbirds cannot regulate their body temperature and need to be kept warm. Teenagers have pinfeather, and can regulate their body temperature better than newborns. They should not drink the homemade nectar the adults do because they need higher protein content in their food. It is ok to offer sugar water however; they cannot drink it for more than four (4) hours without causing sever crippling effects to their bodies. If at all possible, do not attempt to feed a baby hummingbird and get him/her to a trained professional immediately. Baby hummingbirds need protein. Without it, they will become crippled or die. If you are located more than four (4) hours away from your local wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian that is familiar with hummingbirds, consider having some Nektar-Plus (see warning below) on hand.
Some people will see a hummingbird in a nest by him/her self and think that the babies have been abandoned. This is usually not the case. Mom may be sitting in a tree or bush nearby waiting for the place to be "clear" before going to the nest. However, if you think that the nest has truly been abandoned, sit down and watch the nest continuously for a solid hour. Moms usually come to feed the chicks about four to six (4-6) times per hour. She is so fast (about four (4) seconds) if you blink wrong, you might miss her. Baby hummingbirds will usually stay very quite so as not to alert predators to their location. If you hear a baby hummingbird chirp for more than ten (10) full minutes, they are usually starving and need help immediately. If you are located more than four (4) hours away from your local wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian that is familiar with hummingbirds, consider having some Nektar-Plus (see warning below) on hand if you can find it.
If you find a baby hummingbird that fell out of its nest, check to make sure the nest has not been invaded by ants or other insects that may have been on the attack. If the nest is clear, carefully pick up the baby hummingbird by the torso (body) and place him/her back in the nest. Don't worry about mom not returning to the nest because of the smell of humans, hummingbirds don't have a sense of smell. Pull up a chair and watch the nest for one hour to look for mom. If the nest is not clear of dangers, place the baby hummingbird in a small box or basket and place it in a safe location near where the original nest was. Watch again for another hour to see if mom finds her baby in the new location. If mom does not return, see if the chick will readily open their mouth for food. If so, carefully (very carefully) drop three (3) (five (5) if they have feathers) drops of sugar water (four to one (4:1) solution) into their mouth. Offer sugar water every thirty (30) minutes until help can be obtained. Get help right away to avoid crippling injury or death. If you are located more than four (4) hours away from your local wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian that is familiar with hummingbirds, have some Nektar-Plus (see warning below) on hand to feed the hummingbird.
Nektar-Plus is an excellent hummingbird nectar dietary supplement. It is made in Germany and used in commercial aviaries and zoos around the world because of its balanced nutrition and appropriate amount of protein. However:
- It is NOT suitable for outdoor hummingbird feeders, ever.
- Wild hummingbirds do just fine catching their own bugs and do not need to learn dependency on a feeder.
- It is really expensive
- It has a relatively short expiration date on the bottle
- It needs to be replaced twice a day because it spoils quickly
- It needs to be used with sterilized feeders.
- It is difficult to locate and only available to licensed individuals.
For more information about Nektar-Plus, you can read the package insert in pdf format at: http://www.nekton.de/Gebrauchsanweisungen/NEK-PLUS/ge-pl--e.pdf.
Always keep in mind that there are very stiff laws in North America about holding a hummingbird in captivity.