What’s This Post About?
Surprisingly, for many animals the hummingbird is a sweet little snack as they actively hunt for it. These predators impose a grave threat for the birds as they fly around, constantly keeping them at risk of falling prey.
The incredibly tiny hummingbird is targeted by a wide range of predators that eagerly lurk in the nesting and feeding areas of the bird and sneak around in the perches, not letting go of any chance for the bird to escape.
It is prevalent for the bird to be chased during flight, having their nests raided and feeders invaded by the larger, spiteful birds.
Among the numerous predators of hummingbirds, some typical ones include cats, snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, spiders, praying mantis, robber fly and dragonfly, bees and wasps, owls, squirrels, crows, roadrunners, and blue jays.
Exploring the Natural Predators of Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds have various predators in the environment and once spotted by an avid predator, it's difficult for the bird to run away. They end up becoming food for numerous animals, birds, and even insects around.
Often, however, due to the tiny size and rapid movement of the hummingbird, many birds and insects mistake it as an insect or bug, and so it becomes an unsuspecting target, as its predators enjoy untimely meals.
To combat attacks from a multitude of its predators, the bird has exceptional flight abilities, flying at high speeds to escape an attack.
Even though the hummingbirds are feisty, and aggressively try to fend off attacks on them, unfortunately, many times, the poor creature succumbs at the hands of its vicious predators as they enjoy a mouthful.
As humans, the meager size of the bird doesn’t attract us to hummingbirds as a source of food. However, filled with sweet juicy nectar, its predators are always on the hunt to grab and enjoy the stout little bird.
Unfortunately, it is not just the adult birds that become a victim of their predators. The tiny hummingbirds in the nests and the unhatched eggs are also vulnerable targets.
There are species like crovids, squirrels, chipmunks that specifically target the hummingbird’s nest for a treat.
Did You Know?
To protect itself and its eggs from becoming a target of a multitude of its predators, the hummingbird tries to camouflage its nests on highly elevated and sleek tree branches which make it inaccessible for its hunters like cats, squirrels, and chipmunks.
To prevent the high rates of fatality of the hummingbird, it’s essential to learn about its predators so that the bird can be protected from becoming prey to a variety of species around.
1. Domestic Cats
The brightly colored, tiny birds having emphatic plumage serve as a quick tasty snack for cats. Enticed by the rollicking species, cats are one of the most common predators.
Cats straying around can spot the hummingbirds when they stop to perch on the trees or forage on the ground, and can even follow them up on the branches of the trees. Unfortunately, many times, they end up becoming a delicious meal for the cat.
If you’ve got cats around, take precautionary measures to stop the cats from devouring the gorgeous little birds. Consider hanging your bird feeders in an area that is inaccessible to cats, not anywhere near the tree branches or even walls of your house, or else you’ll be inviting the cats for an open feast.
2. Feral Cats
Despite being extremely rapid in their flight and quite agile in responding to situations, the adept predatory skills of the wild cats make it hard for the hummingbird to escape. Clutching the bird with their claws, the feral cats capture and kill these birds voraciously.
These proficient hunters do not let go of any opportunity to enjoy delicious prey.
### 3. Hawks
Even though the cautious hummer is quite watchful, constantly looking for plausible threats around, there are some ravenous predators like the hawk which make it difficult for the tiny birds to defend themselves.
Hawks are known to have excellent vision, detecting the bird from far away. Having expert hunting skills, the hawk is vastly known to prey on smaller species around, so the hummingbirds are no exception.
Quite easily found in regions where the hummingbirds are widespread, such as the feeding and nesting areas, the extremely rapid flight of the Hawks makes it almost impossible for the Hummingbird to get away. That is why they end up as a vulnerable target.
The sharp-shinned hawks have been specifically observed to attack the free-flying birds and enjoying a delicious, quick snack.
Big snakes crawl to the bird feeders in search of nectar, quickly striking onto the hummingbirds with their forked tongue, flicking the bird, and relishing the quick treat.
Plenty of snakes dwell in the same trees as the hummingbirds, and with their silent slithering amidst the tree branches and foliage, they meld in the surroundings so that the little bird is unable to detect any danger, and in no time, it ends up falling prey to the creeping snakes.
The snakes leave no chance to feed onto the unattended eggs of the hummingbirds. As soon as the adult hummingbird leaves the nest, the snakes attack the tiny eggs, quickly snarfing them.
Just like snakes, lizards actively hunt for tiny species like the hummingbirds.
Hiding behind the bushes and shrubs, and often sneaking around near the nectar feeders, the blistering lizards lurk around, quickly attacking the bird, not letting it go.
The bird aggressively tries to defend itself but often flunks at the hands of the lizard.
6. Praying Mantis
A menace for the small birds and insects around, the praying mantis is an excellent predator, attacking and feasting on a variety of creatures.
These insects are often attracted to the gardens and feeders as they snare and eat other bugs and insects like mites, aphids, and flies.
Having the stellar ability to perfectly camouflage themselves, appearing as wooden barks, long sticks, or even foliage around, it rapidly attacks its prey with its spiky forelegs, making very calculated moves that the prey is unable to realize its presence.
Once they get their hands on the prey, they slice it up viciously, gobbling it alive. Just like many other tiny species, the hummingbird is also often an unwitting target for the Mantis, occasionally capturing the tiny birds and enjoying its meal for several days.
Hummingbirds sometimes use the silk in the spider webs to build their nests. Unfortunately, due to their lightweight bodies, they often get trapped up in these webs and are then unable to escape.
Large spiders like the orbed weavers, who are generally not expecting the charming birds to stop by, capitalize on this opportunity to snare their captive prey. The wild spiders enwrap the tangled bird and eat it right away.
Rarely though, the wild spiders catch an eye on the bird and attack it from nowhere, cruelly injecting its venom into the bird, incapacitating it. The spider then sucks the liquid nectar out of the bird and enjoys a delicious meal.
In its striving endeavor to capture its prey, the frog might jump quite high, flicking insects that come in its way quite rapidly. It might mistake the low flying tiny hummingbird to be an insect species that comprise its diet, grappling the bird and having a mouthful right away.
Although the frogs targeting the unsuspected hummingbird is not a very common observation, evidence suggests that hummingbirds have been found in the stomachs of large frogs like the BullFrog. Green Frog and Leopard Frogs have also been seen munching tiny birds, misjudging it to be an insect.
We apprehend the frogs have a hard time swallowing the bird and aren’t too pleased by this prey. It might result in the death of the frog itself.
Some large fish might snare the low flying hummingbirds as they leap out of the pond. For most of them, they confuse the tiny hummingbirds as insects or bugs that are flying by.
To prevent the hummingbirds from becoming a delectable treat to frogs or fish, arrange a water source for them at a distance, so they're not attracted towards the pond where there is a strong likelihood that they'll be hunted down.
10. Robber Fly
The Bee Panthers and Beezle Bub Bee-eaters are among the largest flies, almost 4 inches in size. Slyly calculating their moves, they disguise themselves as bumblebees.
Before the poor little hummingbird can identify the danger, the atrocious fly wraps its wings around the bird and then pierces it with its lances.
The lances inject enzymes into the prey, intoxicating the bird, causing it to paralyze or even die. The robber fly then enjoys the bird by sucking out the fluids out of its body.
We see these tiny creatures flying around in the backyards and gardens quite frequently. Astoundingly, they are fairly sharp predators, often catching and killing the tiny hummingbirds.
The significantly smaller, in fact, lighter than its prey, dragonfly traps the hummingbird with its wings. The hummingbird puts in a lot of effort to elude the dragonfly, but the devious insect drags the bird on the ground, and then ascends into the air, flying off with the birds tightly grasped.
A dragonfly preying on a bird that is almost double its weight seems to be quite unbelievable. Nonetheless, we contemplate it to be a raring clash between the two species. But there have been such instances when the poor bird becomes a victim at the hands of such insects.
Known to be among the savage predators of small creatures like birds and insects, the owl uses its adroit skills to eagerly hunt the hummingbirds at its nesting areas and frequent perches.
The predatory owls attack the roosting birds, at the time when they’re least likely to fend off the voracious creatures, such as when they’re asleep. The owls then enjoy their easily attainable meal.
Hummingbirds often become a miserable target for one of the fastest running birds - the roadrunner. The speedster birds are quite experienced in their strive to get a mouthful of the nectar-filled birds, so they lurk around the feeders and wait till the bird arrives.
It’s a horrendous sight to watch as the tiny little creature becoming a target of the awful strike. As soon as the roadrunner spots the prey, it captures the zippy wings of the bird, then thunderously beats it against a rock or ground, diminishing all its energies, and then swallows the poor bird.
14. Bees and Wasps
Due to the incredibly small size of the hummingbirds, small insects like bees and wasps can outwit them easily.
While the hummingbirds might attack the insects to feed on them, they can be deterred by a potential attack on them. The hummingbirds use their sharp beaks to impale the insects while even a single sting from the bees or wasps can prove deadly as it spreads venom throughout the little body of the bird.
When the two species indulge in a fight, it often results in a terrible deadlock, quite often causing harm and even death to both.
To avoid such a hostile conflict, it's ideal to keep both the prey and predator as far as possible. Deter the bees and wasps from coming near the Hummingbird feeders. Place fake wasp nests nearby so that the wasps get diverted away and do not come too close to the hummingbird feeders.
Dwelling in the trees, the witty squirrels can jump up the higher branches of the trees so the hummingbird’s nests are quite accessible for the agile species. Deterred by almost nothing, the squirrels seek every opportunity to strike and feast on the hummingbird eggs and babies.
The pesky squirrels are known for wrecking the backyards and making their way into the feeders. The hummingbird’s feeder also is one of the most frequently visited feeders of the squirrels, creating a nuisance by stealing away seeds meant for other birds.
In their strive to obtain a meal, the relentless squirrel will not only knock off bird feeders and birdbath, but sometimes the feisty creature can even attack the birds in the feeders to snatch its seed, wreaking havoc in the backyard.
Though the scrappy squirrels are not quite easy to chase away, try adding a little bit of spice like cayenne pepper into the seed. Most birds wouldn't be too bothered by the spice, but we bet the squirrel won't return to the bird feeder to have its treats.
If you want to protect your hummingbirds from this predator, I have a comprehensive post about keeping squirrels out of the bird feeder!
Are you looking for ways to keep squirrels out of bird feeders? Is it becoming annoying to see less birds every day in your backyard? Read on.
16. Blue Jay
Another member of the crovids family, the notorious Blue Jay is infamous for raiding the nests and eating hummingbird nestlings and eggs in the nest.
Not too frequently though, it also attacks the hummingbirds in their feeders, keeping an eye on the bird from afar, and swooping speedily to grab the bird. The aggressive hummingbird does retaliate to protect itself but the poor species is not too potent against its predator.
Another conspicuous predator of the tiny little hummingbirds is the nasty crows.
Even though a hummingbird exhibits agility in trying to fight back its predators, it’s hard to deter the husky ones like the crows. Instead of chasing the hummingbirds, they make a direct attack into the nests of the little species, letting the bird go if it gets out of sight.
As opportunistic hunters, these witty birds are well aware that the hummingbirds have no place to escape once they get hold of their nests, so they enjoy their treat in the nests, scoffing the eggs and nestlings.
Orioles like the Baltimore are widely known for raiding the hummingbird feeders. Both the species are fond of feeding on nectar and this common interest often ends up in scrimmage between the two species.
Even though both the birds can feed on nectar from the same feeder, the Orioles prefer to establish dominance over the tinier birds. Unfortunately, the two don’t get along well together and the male hummingbirds exhibit absolute aggression to dissuade the Orioles.
The Orioles don’t hesitate to attack the tiny birds and often the attack is so deadly that the little birds end up dying.
Try setting up two separate feeders for both the Orioles and Hummingbirds, so they can easily drink from their feeders. You can explore the Birds Choice 1009 Oriole Feeder for this purpose.
Four feeding ports, four jelly cups and a spiked hanging rod (for skewering orange halves) attract orioles like no other feeder
It's not just the ferocious predators that post a threat to hummingbirds. Undoubtedly, we humans are fond of the gorgeous little species, but many of our activities pose a threat to the birds. Diminishing their natural habitat to construct cities and towns and using chemical pesticides on our plantations poses serious threats to the survival of the birds.
Tips To Protect Hummingbirds From Predators
Learning about the various types of hummingbird predators and understanding the root causes behind such fatalities, helps the birders to protect the tiny species that are quite vulnerable to become a delightful feast for its predators.
Adopt these measures in an attempt to mitigate the imminent threats on the hummingbirds and to protect them.
Hang the hummingbird feeders far away from the reach of predators at highly elevated positions and away from the railings and walls to deter the crawling species to reach the feeders.
Create secure perches to allow the birds to rest without being conspicuously exposed to the predators around.
If you’ve got cats around, take stringent steps to keep the cats away from the feeding sites. Install strong barricades which prohibit the entry of the cats into the feeders, obviating them from chasing the little birds.
If you see any predatory insects, lizards, or snakes around the hummingbird feeders, perches, or in the vicinity of the nests, try to get rid of them to provide a safe dwelling for the birds.
Make sure to occasionally supervise the feeders and nests of the hummingbirds, remaining cautious of any predators as they are at risk from predators. Also, make sure that your precautionary measures don’t disturb the hummingbirds and their nestlings.
The birds are not only killed due to an attack by predators but sometimes physical obstacles appearing in the path of the birds might also pose a danger. The lithesome speedsters might bump into cars, building windows, or trees. Sometimes they can simply fly away or may face slight injury while occasionally the bird might succumb to death.
If you ever wondered whether it was almost impossible to prey on the rapidly flying, aggressive species, you now know the real picture. There are a plethora of hummingbirds predators that are on a constant lookout to capture the tiny birds and enjoy a nourishing meal.
Like all the other species, the pretty little species face a considerable threat from their environment. Taking measures to protect the birds would not bring the killing of hummingbirds to a halt. We cannot deny the cycle of nature, but we can step forward to protect them.
If you wish to closely observe the pretty little hummingbirds as they visit your backyards and enjoy their activity from dawn to dusk, you can begin your birding experience right away. Read our blog to find all the equipment you need to have for an impeccable birding experience.
Are you interested in knowing what could make your bird-watching experience enthralling? Read on to find out about the essential gear you need to own.
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!