When most people wish and dream of becoming birds, they fantasize about what it’s like to fly around and be carefree. While soaring through the sky is undoubtedly an amazing experience, being a bird is not always the easiest thing—particularly if you’re a hummingbird.
Hummingbirds, because of their size and behavior, face a whole range of threats we as humans never consider. To give you a better idea of the scary world hummingbirds face, I’ve compiled this short list of major threats to hummingbirds.
Whenever it starts to rain, we run for cover to escape the droplets so we don’t get wet. The experience of hummingbirds is quite different. A recent study, as covered in the New York Times, has found that hummingbirds can survive rainstorms by shifting their posture and speed. A drop of rain can be 38 percent of a hummingbird’s body weight. The water isn’t the only thing they have to worry about. High winds can push hummingbirds into objects or drown them.
There have also been some reports that excessive snow and freezing temperatures kill hummingbirds. Bad weather is a bad sign for hummingbirds.
If you’ve ever walked into a spider web, it can be pretty annoying trying to get those sticky webs off. When you’re a small bird that flies into a web, it could spell your doom. Orb weaver spiders are apparently abundant on the Texas coast, according to Chron, and the huge yard-long webs entrap hummingbirds and other small birds.
In most cases, it takes the intervention of humans to save the trapped birds.
Even though all the birds seem to get along just fine at your hummingbird feeders, a big threat to birds is other birds. For example, the Tiny Hawk, which is found in Central and South America is known to prey on and devour hummingbirds. Other types of birds, like orioles and falcons, also feed on hummingbirds.
When someone walks into a sliding glass door, it usually ends with hilarious results perfect for a show like America’s Funniest Home Videos. When a hummingbird does it, it’s not so funny. Windows—and frankly, most man-made objects—present harmful obstacles to hummingbirds.
Take all of the dangers presented above and multiply them exponentially. Those dangers tend to be minimized when flying around familiar areas, but when you’re traveling thousands of miles each year, the amount of rainstorms, spider webs, hawks, insects, windows and cars you will encounter grows. Some Rufous Hummingbirds travel more than 2,000 miles one way during migration. That is an insanely huge number considering they weigh as little as two grams.
So, the next time you dream about being a carefree bird soaring through the sky, maybe you should reconsider. You also might want to look at those funny hummingbirds at your feeders in a different light because they’ve dodged a lot just to be there. Appreciate their existence.