Helping Hummingbirds - Conservation Action Series

A series about what we can do individually and locally to help hummingbirds

Wetland – Any wet area provides value


A functioning wetland provides food and nesting resources.

Anna’s Hummingbirds are keeping us busy right now, as we refresh and keep their feeders from freezing. Although their numbers are increasing, they remind us that not all species of hummingbird are doing well. The Rufous Hummingbird is now considered a tipping point species, a term for species that ‘have lost two-thirds of their populations in the past 50 years, and are on track to lose another 50% in the next 50 years’. There are many factors contributing to this decline and each month, we will identify some of the challenges these birds face and explore different ways that we can help. 

Dramatic population declines are occurring in insect-eating birds, from hummingbirds to swallows. Hummingbirds rely on a steady supply of small insects to provide their daily needs for salts, fat and protein. Most of their flying prey spend part of their lives in water, only emerging to breed. As ponds and wet areas disappear under increasing urban development and intensive agriculture, the crucial production of food for insect-eaters becomes compromised. 

wetland 2

We can help insect-eating birds by ensuring that ponds and wetland areas are increased, protected and productive. While the hummingbirds that you help may differ depending on whether you live in an urban or rural setting (e.g., Anna’s or Rufous Hummingbirds, respectively), the solution is the same. Many tiny wetlands can quickly contribute to a much larger food supply. You may consider putting a small pond in your garden, encouraging your strata to have a small wetland area in its grounds or leaving a bog area untilled in a back field. Importantly, for these wetlands to function, biocontrol agents that kill insects like the hummingbird’s favourite food, non-biting midges, must be avoided. These birds are predators and they will provide a natural control of the insect populations if they are allowed to thrive. 

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