A Stunned Hummingbird
If you see a hummingbird fly into something and knock themselves unconscious, or if you find a hummingbird just sitting on the ground, don't do anything unless you need to. Check the area where the hummingbird landed for any obvious indicators of danger. Also check above the hummingbird to look for any clues as to what may have happened such as a dust mark on a window or a nest somewhere above. Then check and see if the hummingbird is still alive. This is extremely difficult as a hummingbird enters a sort of hibernation state call torpor when they sleep. It may take as long as twenty minutes of watching to know for sure if they are alive or not. If the hummingbird is still alive and if the area is free from predators and is safe from danger, environmental factors such as cold, and is resting comfortably, sit with them to see if they can regain consciousness on their own. If they have not done so in about five to ten minutes (or longer), try reaching for the hummingbird. This may scare your little friend into flying away. If attempting to pick up the hummingbird does not work, cup your hands around the hummingbird to pick him/her up. Place the hummingbird in a small box with crumpled up tissue inside and a lid with holes on top before standing up. Always put the hummingbird in a safe location before standing up otherwise he or she may struggle and fall out of your hands.
Take the hummingbird inside to a warm (not hot) location. If the hummingbird starts to open its beak to breathe or its neck is outstretched, it is too hot and they need to be moved to a different location. If the hummingbird is all fluffed up and looks like a cotton ball, he/she is cold and needs to be warmed. To warm up the hummingbird quickly, carefully hold the hummingbird between your thumb and forefinger. Take the hummingbird near a light bulb for warmth. As the hummingbird warms up, his/her feathers will slick down and the eyes will open up. Do not overheat. Make sure the hummingbird is warm before feeding them any nectar.
Offer him/her some homemade nectar. Mix 4 parts water with 1 part sugar. Fill an eyedropper or syringe with the nectar. Carefully place the hummingbird's beak into the hole of your eyedropper or syringe. Don't squeeze the dropper or syringe or you may drown the hummingbird. If the hummingbird is eating, his/her tongue will be seen moving and bubbles will be seen in the liquid. If the hummingbird gasps or bubbles are seen on the side of the hummingbird's mouth, stop immediately. Let the hummingbird calm down a bit and try again. If the hummingbird won't drink, don't force the issue. Offer the sugar water every thirty (30) minutes until help from trained professional can be reached. If care can not be reached within four (4) hours, consider feeding the hummingbird Nektar-Plus (see warning below) if you can find any.
Nektar-Plus is an excellent hummingbird nectar dietary supplement. It is made in Germany and used in commercial aviaries and zoos around the world because of its balanced nutrition and appropriate amount of protein. However:
- It is NOT suitable for outdoor hummingbird feeders, ever.
- Wild hummingbirds do just fine catching their own bugs and do not need to learn dependency on a feeder.
- It is really expensive
- It has a relatively short expiration date on the bottle
- It needs to be replaced twice a day because it spoils quickly
- It needs to be used with sterilized feeders.
- It is difficult to locate and only available to licensed individuals.
For more information about Nektar-Plus, you can read the package insert in pdf format at: http://www.nekton.de/Gebrauchsanweisungen/NEK-PLUS/ge-pl--e.pdf.
Always keep in mind that there are very stiff laws in North America about holding a hummingbird in captivity.