Can You Keep A Hummingbird As A Pet?
It's A $200,000 Fine

Hummingbirds are extremely attractive creatures and are often captured as a result of their beauty. However, you can be fined $200,000 for doing so.

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David A. Swanson

May 23, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Hummingbirds are beautiful birds that like to have their own space to feed and move about comfortably. They are usually very mild-tempered and observant unless they are threatened.

However, most individuals who are fond of this little bird often try to capture the bird, with the intention of keeping it as a pet within a cage. This is something that goes against the laws within the United States as capturing wild birds can result in fines.

Hummingbirds cannot be kept as pets. Keeping hummingbirds as pets is illegal in most parts of the world including the United States as they are wild animals and don’t belong inside cages or homes. There is a $200,000 fine for anybody violating this law.

a free hummingbird

What Does the Law State About Capturing Hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds aren’t meant to be caged as they are wild animals.

The Migratory Bird Act was passed in 1918 to prohibit the possession and killing of birds. This law had to be passed because of the over-hunting and poaching of birds.

People would often kill them for economical purposes as you could sell these birds’ feathers in the market for a profit. Hummingbird feathers could fetch a huge price in the fashion industry. This practice of killing the bird became common and their feathers were used to decorate women’s hats.

the law for birds

This law made it illegal to capture birds or take in any of their parts. If you wanted to hunt birds then you could only do so with the permission of the State. Over a thousand species of birds are protected under this arrangement.

Hence, keeping birds as pets, taking their feathers, and killing them were all criminalized in 1918.

a bird cage

Why Can Hummingbirds Not Be Kept as Pets?

Hummingbirds can’t be kept as pets because they are too small, need a lot of food, can attack you if they feel threatened with their beak and be difficult to keep healthy because of their dietary requirements.

There are some characteristics of hummingbirds that make it very difficult to keep them as pets. Some of these characteristics include:

1. They are too small

Hummingbirds are very small in size. They can be about 3 to 5 inches wide. This makes them very difficult to keep as pets because they are difficult to hold. If you’re not gentle, then you risk hurting or maybe even killing them.

2. They Have a Fast Metabolism and Need A Lot of Food

Hummingbirds have an extremely fast metabolism, and they require food after every 10 to 15 minutes. This is because of their fast-paced flight and quick and smooth wing-flapping as it consumes a lot of energy.

This makes it quite difficult to keep them as pets because you have to constantly fill up their feeders and look after them. You cannot leave them behind with a stockpile of food as they will either consume it or it will go bad.

3. They Have Specific Dietary Requirements That Are Hard to Meet

Hummingbirds require more than just nectar to survive. Their nectar has to be in certain water to sugar ratio as well because they don’t like extremely concentrated or diluted solutions.

They need to eat insects like gnats and fruit flies to maintain a healthy diet. You can’t maintain this diet if you have kept them as pets inside your home as they won’t have access to these insects.

4. They Have Strong Beaks That They Can Attack You With

Hummingbirds have small beaks, but they’re strong enough to cause damage.

Hummingbirds have strong beaks which they can use to attack a human or other birds in case they are feeling threatened.

a broad billed hummingbird

Can I keep a hummingbird inside my home if I have a Permit?

Only if it is legal in your country or state to keep a hummingbird as a pet and you own a permit. However, you must keep them properly and shower them with abundant care.

Your bird should have plenty of space to move around and shouldn’t be locked up in a small cage. They are wild animals, and they don’t belong in cages.

The area where they are kept should be spacious, and they should have constant access to food. They have a voracious appetite which demands them to eat after nearly every 10 minutes.

Their feeder must be stocked with fresh food constantly, and they should also have fresh water. Food kept in a feeder for 4 to 5 days may go bad thus not making it suitable for the birds.

However, hummingbirds are still not the best animals to be kept as pets. This is because if you don’t give them enough space or if you make them feel threatened, they might have a violent outburst and attack you.

What Are Better Alternatives Instead of Keeping Them as Pets?

A red-colored bird feeder is an ideal way of getting hummingbirds to your backyard.

A better alternative than keeping hummingbirds inside your home is to just build a feeding station in your backyard. This way the birds will get to live freely and you will still get to see them in their natural habitat which is much better than small cages.

Feeding stations are quite easy to set up. You can do this by setting up multiple bird feeders in your backyard. Be sure to space them out properly and away from predators. You may consider exploring Nature’s Way Garden Top Hummingbird Feeder.

Nature’s Way Garden Top Hummingbird Feeder

I recommend this station because it is just perfect! The extra wide opening enables easier filling and cleaning; all parts easily remove and are dishwasher-safe.

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If you want to look at them closely and be able to enjoy their beauty fully, then you can try hand-feeding them. It may take some time, effort, and practice but in the end, you will get to experience them closely.

You can even make your nectar at home and place it outside. You can also paint the outsides red or use a red container to attract the hummingbirds.

a hummingbird on a feeder

How To Make Nectar for Hummingbirds?

Homemade nectar is a very good fix for your hummingbirds if the right ratio of sugar and water is used.

Nectar for hummingbirds is quite easy to make at home. All you need to do is combine one part of the sugar with four parts of water. This mixture will create the perfect nectar. Diluted solutions won’t be preferred by them and stronger solutions can potentially be harmful.

Make sure your solution is at the correct temperature before giving it to the hummingbirds. Any extra nectar can be refrigerated but if it’s too old, it can go bad.


Do not make nectar using honey. Fermented honey can cause a fungal illness in hummingbirds.

Keep Reading!

You cannot keep hummingbirds as pets. It is illegal and can put you through trouble including hefty fines and perhaps jail time. They are meant to be free and find their way around themselves.

Keeping hummingbirds in cages can also cause them to become aggressive towards you as they like their freedom to move around. If they feel like they are under threat, they can hurt you.

Practices such as capturing birds including Hummingbirds were banned in 1918 after which it became illegal to keep them as pets.

So rather than keeping them illegally, it is better to build a feeding station outside your home where these birds can live freely and you can enjoy seeing them from a distance.

If you’re interested in taking up bird watching as an activity, read my post to learn more.

How to Start Bird Watching? A Fantastic Guide for An Enthralling Experience!

Is the trend of birdwatching catching onto you? Are you looking to amplify your birdwatching experience? Don’t miss out on reading this fantastic guide.

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By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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