Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Stunning – No, Make That Stunned – Hummingbird


I’ve been thinking of putting out a feeder, but it appears there are hazards I hadn’t considered. For instance, unconscious hummingbirds.

UFD I. Photo courtesy Connie.

UFD I. Photo courtesy Connie.

This is my friend Connie’s wife Tanya holding a hummingbird that passed out cold after having a sip of nectar. Fell backwards off the perch and splat on the ground. This is apparently rare, but happens from time to time. It certainly makes the little buggers easier to photograph.

UFD II. Photo courtesy Connie.

UFD II. Photo courtesy Connie.

Tanya picked the poor little thing off the ground and gave it a bit of a warm, and after a bit it was good as new. Before it recovered, everyone got a good close view and some very nice photos. They’d also given it a name, Hum.

UFD III. Photo courtesy Connie.

UFD III. Photo courtesy Connie.

Adorable, but somewhat sad, seeing one like this. But it seems to have recovered well, thanks to a loving hand, and now hummingbird lovers will have a prime opportunity to identify our fainting friend. While you do that, I need to reassess the wisdom of placing a feeder on the third floor. If birds are going to sometimes lose consciousness, it’s probably best if the distance between them and the ground is short…

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, this is tricky. I’m going to guess that it’s a juvenile male Costa’s hummingbird, but can’t completely rule out juvenile male black-chinned. (I’m leaning towards Costa’s because the bird appears to have a few metallic purple feathers coming in on its head, which would be all purple in an adult, whereas black-chinned adults have green heads.)

    Or it could be a male Calliope hummingbird – I think they have more extensive purpley-pink on their throats than this guy, though.

  2. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    Hi Tanya! :)

    Hmm – they pass out from drinking sugar water? Interesting. Also, those are nice shots of a good-looking bird.

  3. says

    @F #3 – Sugar water has a lower freezing point than plain water, and hummingbird feeders can remain liquid even at sub-freezing temperatures. A hungry bird comes by, sees food at a time when food is very scarce, takes a sip… and falls into a hypothermia coma as the liquid cools its tiny body below the safety point.

  4. Trebuchet says

    Poor little guy! I agree with Gregory that the cold nectar probably caused the incident.

    I don’t think I’d worry too much about the fall from the 3rd floor. Hummingbirds are so light that they probably reach terminal velocity within a few feet. The real danger would be from passing cats while they lie unconscious on the ground.

  5. rq, homeowner says

    Third floor = ok for small birds and hummingbirds to pass out. You can drop animals the size of mice from 5 storeys and they’ll just scamper off. It has to do with their mass and the amount of energy they acquire at that height and its transfer upon landing. I’d worry more (as mentioned by Trebuchet) about cats or other carnivores wandering by.
    But do heat the nectar. I’m pretty sure the hummingbirds themselves wouldn’t be fans of the eat-till-you-drop exhibit. ;)
    (Very nice photos. Seconding heliconia on the ID.)

  6. kathyr says

    About the ID, this is most likely an Anna’s Hummingbird, probably an immature male, based on the dark patch of reddish feathers on the throat the couple of ones on the top of the head. When identifying birds from photographs, it is often *very* important to know when (time of year) and where the photo was taken. Based on Tanya’s attire, the photo was taken in winter and, assuming this is in the PNW, Anna’s is the only likely candidate, as it is the only species of hummer that regularly occurs on the west coast in winter. Most of the other “North American” species of hummers winter far south of their breeding range and are kickin’ it Mexico or Central America now.

    • azportsider says

      I’d agree with Anna’s, and for the reasons kathyr mentions. In the second photograph the wingtip appears as if it would fall short of the tailtip, whereas the tail’s shorter in Costa’s and barely reaches the wingtip. Yes, the crown patch looks purplish, but I think that may an artifact of the darkish photographic conditions.