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Wildlife center seeks help to care for growing number of rescued hummingbirds

Wildlife center seeks help to care for growing number of rescued hummingbirds
A hummingbird being cared for by the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach sits in a nest made of fabric. (Courtesy of Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center)

Having a charm of hummingbirds in your care might seem enchanting, but the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach is seeking the public’s help in caring for its unusually large hummingbird population after the recent storms.

The facility has 42 hummingbirds in need of rehabilitation, including 20 juveniles that require near-constant attention, the center said.

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The babies require hand feeding every 30 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. They consume a specialized formula supplemented by a mixture of bugs, including fruit flies.

The fledglings are “very fragile; they have to stay warm and be fed often,” said Stacy Sweeting, outreach and education coordinator for the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center.

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The center rehabilitated 602 hummingbirds in 2018. Since the beginning of this year, it has taken in 95, Sweeting said.

The recent rainstorms may have contributed to the influx of orphaned and injured birds, Sweeting said.

“Babies are getting blown out of nests,” she said.

The center said it also is seeing more instances of birds striking windows, likely due to wind.

The Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center says it has taken in 95 hummingbirds since the beginning of this year and currently has 42 in need of rehabilitation, including 20 juveniles.
The Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center says it has taken in 95 hummingbirds since the beginning of this year and currently has 42 in need of rehabilitation, including 20 juveniles. (Courtesy of Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center)

Other hazards facing the birds include power-washing homes and cutting trees, which tend to disrupt nests or cause them to fall from eaves, the center said.

Hummingbirds start nesting in December, and fledglings spend four weeks in the nest before learning to fly and beginning to feed themselves.

The center wants to “educate people to not trim their trees beginning in December” in hope that it will result in fewer injured birds, Sweeting said.

The bugs that fledgling hummingbirds rely on for food are costing the center $65 a week. The center solicited financial support for the cause on Facebook and had raised more than $500 as of Wednesday afternoon.

The center, which treated 111 species of birds in 2018 in addition to many mammal species, is largely run by volunteers, with community members acting as species specialists.

Hummingbirds often are taken to the center in their nests or whatever they were found on, Sweeting said.

If someone sees a hummingbird in distress, the center urges calling for guidance. Trying to pick up the birds without experience could do more damage.

“Their little toes and feet can rip right off,” Sweeting said.

Like other animals in the wild, it’s best not to try to feed a rescued hummingbird. Instead, “keep it warm and get it to a rehabber,” Sweeting said.

“People try to do it themselves, but it’s actually illegal; they have 24 hours to take it to a rehabber if you rescue a hummingbird,” Sweeting said.

For more information, visit the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center’s website at wwccoc.org.

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