How to Care for an Abandoned Baby Hummingbird

How to Care for an Abandoned Baby Hummingbird

You need to get immediate help, in case you have found a baby hummingbird. Due to their tiny size, and delicate nature, the birds may fall prey to various dangers. This BirdEden article guides you on baby hummingbird care that you should take, until you can get help.
BirdEden Staff
Did You Know?
Hummingbirds are the only birds that have the ability to fly backward. They can also fly upside down, and hover in one place.
Hummingbirds are very small birds with elongated beaks, and are found in a variety of beautiful colors and shades. They are New World Birds and belong to the Trochilidae family. They are one of the smallest species of birds, most measuring only 7 - 14 cm. Their name comes from the humming sound which can be heard when they flap their wings.

Also incredible is the fact that these tiny creatures flap their wings a whopping 75 times per second. Hummingbirds are nectarivores (feed on nectar produced by flowering plants) and generally feed upon the ornithophilous flowers. The birds breed up to two times in a year, when the conditions are favorable. They lay their eggs in nests made out of spider silk, which expands as the baby grows. The duration of incubation is 14 - 23 days, depending on the species and temperature.

The mother hummingbird is very attentive, and feeds her nestlings every 20 minutes. The babies can however, find themselves abandoned due to a variety of reasons. If you have found an orphaned or abandoned baby, make sure you get immediate help. The following measures can be taken to take proper care until help arrives.

Note: One has less than 4 hours to start taking care of a hummingbird baby. Try getting help within 24 hours of finding an abandoned baby, or it may die.
Identifying a Baby Hummingbird
A baby hummingbird can be characterized with yellow straw-like strands on its back. They have no feathers, and are very tiny in size. In case the baby is too young, it will be black in color, and have a very short yellow-colored beak. The eyes will also be closed.
Pictures of Baby Hummingbirds
Rescuing an Abandoned Baby Hummingbird
Rescuing an abandoned baby hummingbird is an exhilarating experience. However, one must first be sure of whether or not a baby actually needs to be rescued. When the baby is 10 - 12 days old, it does not need the mother's attention as much (except for the 5-second feeding), the reason why she may spend quite some time away from the nest. She may also do the same to avoid attracting any attention from the predators. Observe the nest for an hour (maximum two), and if the mother doesn't come back within that time, you may consider that the babies are abandoned. In case you see the baby has fallen from the nest, is injured or peeping constantly, or is covered with ants, contact a wildlife rescue organization immediately.

If the babies have only fallen out of their nest, gently pick them up, and place them back into their nest. If the nest cannot be found, build a substitute nest using an egg carton or something similar, with a tissue lining or a paper cloth. Never use a cloth, since the baby's feet may get entangled in it.
Keeping a Baby Hummingbird Warm
The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is to keep the babies warm, since they do not have the ability to regulate their own temperature. Preferably, keep the baby in its nest. If that is not possible, line a plastic cup with tissue paper, put the baby inside, and keep it under a lamp (about 5 inches away from the bulb). In case the baby starts to stretch its neck or breathes with it is mouth, the lamp is too hot, and needs to be moved farther away.
What to Feed a Baby Hummingbird?
The baby needs to be fed every 20 minutes, and will die within 4 hours of no food source. Orphaned or abandoned birds need an even more specialized diet, since feeding them only sugar water for too long will provide them no nutritional value, and lead to their death. However, it can be fed until the veterinarian arrives. If the babies are readily opening their mouth, carefully put three to four drops of sugar water in their mouth, with the help of a dropper. However, make sure that you do not feed the solution to the baby for more than 24 hours, since it may result in harm to the bird. One should feed the bird every 20 to 30 minutes. Moreover, DO NOT use honey water to feed the baby. Make the solution only using clean water and pure white sugar (4 parts water and 1 part sugar). Also make sure that you change the feeder every two to three days, so as to avoid bacterial growth.
Many times, we may end up hurting the bird in our attempt to help it. Also remember that there are strict laws in the US pertaining to touching or holding a hummingbird in captivity. Therefore, it is best to let a veterinarian or a wildlife expert take care of the little one.