Very scant booty
Religious Mante and hummingbirdCredit: Richard L. Walkup
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In Canada, few predators show an interest in the hummingbird. They are too small and too quick; in short, they require a lot of effort for little return. Despite this, they are sometimes the prey of small raptors, like falcons. The tiniest species may be the victims of smaller birds, like jays. The hummingbird can also be the prey of frogs and fish that grab them when they are bathing. But without doubt, the rarest occurrence reported is that of a hummingbird captured by a praying mantis.
Hummingbird nest Non identifiedCredit: Suzanne Demers
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Hummingbird nests are often well camouflaged and the eggs are usually very well protected. Minuscule, they are of little interest to predators. Their nests are more often the victim of accidents than predators. Some species build their nests close to the ground, where small animals can come across them. Thus, nests can be destroyed by small mammals, such as cats, weasels and even mice, for which the two tiny eggs are an important source of energy.
In the animal world, the number of eggs laid per year is a good indicator of the survival rate of the species. At our latitudes, hummingbirds lay only one clutch of two eggs per year. This fact indicates that they are not really in danger of extinction.
Careful! Accidents can happen
Anna's HummingbirdCalypte annaCredit: Cassidy Curtis
(Size: 63.48 kb)
Accidents seem to play an important role in the future of hummingbirds. Some collide with windowpanes while others develop illnesses after eating from dirty feeders. They can get caught in spider webs and be unable to escape. This is particularly true in tropical areas where there are very big spiders. These tiny birds have also been known to impale themselves on thorns or sharp branches.
Risks to their lives
Anna's HummingbirdCalypte annaCredit: Frank Leung
(Size: 49.11 kb)
Hummingbirds are really small to have to deal with the rigours of the weather. They must survive storms during their migration as well as cold and longer nights. Their nutritional needs are significant and a delay in the blossoming period limits their food sources.
Both male and female hummingbirds powerfully defend their food reserves. They are very aggressive towards one another. Some of them get hurt during encounters with others of their species.
Hats with feathersCredit: Musée de la civilisation, bibliothèque du Séminaire de Québec. Le Monde illustré / Album universel, page 210. 27 juin 1903. No 537.6
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Hummingbirds have been the victim of our admiration. In the past, they were hunted for their spectacular plumage. Natives throughout South America used hummingbird feathers in their ornaments. In the European and North American fashion world of the mid 19th century, hummingbird feathers were in high demand. During the same period, several million hummingbird skins were exported from Central and South America, not only for decorating women's hats and clothing, but also for use by manufacturers of ornaments and artificial flowers. More recently, a significant number have been captured in aviaries and cages to observe them more closely. Hummingbirds cannot be kept in captivity without a special permit.