Hummingbird Predators

sandytex(7 Midlothian)September 23, 2008

I heard a discussion on hummingbirds at a local school.The speaker informed us that the praying mantas was the only predator of the HB. It would sit on the feeder and kill the bird as it approached. Can anyone validate this? Thanks for any information.


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Yes, mantises are predators of hummingbirds. Here's a couple pictures if you want terrible evidence: click here

But they are definitely not the only predators, or even the most successful. I'd put housecats at the top of the list, which is why you don't often find cat lovers who are hummingbird lovers (at least those who have outdoor cats). Cats will stake out a feeder; very natural but deplorable behavior for hummer enthusiasts. Other birds will also prey on hummers, such as hawks and other raptors. More unusual predators can also capture hummingbirds, such as spiders and frogs. Even fish can hit hummers if they're not careful. It's nature's way, after all.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 10:54PM
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I cannot say I have seen this happen. Thank Goodness! I do believe that this is true. On another birding board I learned that our native praying mantis and the introduced Chinesse Mantis will indeed bite and eat hummers and mice. I then Googled it and sure enough they will kill and eat hummers.

This was very timely, since a few days later I was sitting on my computer which is at a window where one of my hummer feeders is and I noticed a female ruby that kept slowly flying around this one spot in the shade tree where the hummers rest and watch. It was a green praying mantis. I would not have noticed if it had not been for this hummer's
strange behavior. I knocked the bug out of the tree and relocated it to one of my flower beds.

I hope this helps. Happy Hummers to you!


    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 11:14PM
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Pretty gruesome, but apparently true.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nasty way to go.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 11:31AM
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Hummingbird predators, listed by worst first:

Preying Mantiss
Spider Webs

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 11:46AM
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mary grether(7/8)

You mean to tell me that the praying mantis can catch a humming bird, I thought the hummers were too fast for anything. wow, a lot to learn! Mary

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 9:51AM
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Yes Mary, a lot to learn and I am still learning also!!! I have been feeding hummers and birds for years. I love this learning process. I will do any and everything to help protect our native birds.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 8:18PM
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I came home from work today and there was a 3" or more green praying mantis on one of my hummer feeders. I knocked it down yet lost it in my gardenia bush below. Later I noticed the hummers where flying at the feeder yet not feeding. This feeder is at my window where my computer is. I went out and there he was on the front side of the feeder! I grabbed him with my hand and I believe he bit me. I dropped him and stomped him. I am feeling bad about this. Yet I didn't want him to kill one of my hummers. Does anyone know if they will bite humans? I am feeling a bit of a pain in my hand? Maybe I am over reacting. I would appreciate the help! I have learned this, they will relocate to the same spot. Heads up to everyone!

Jean NW GA

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 7:57PM
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Yes, a preying mantis WILL bite you. Never grab these dudes. Their front feet have razor sharp jagged claws. That's what they use to slit open the hummer's chest. I had a HUGE one hanging on one of my feeders last year. (His head is facing down, waiting for a hummer to come to the feeder.) I knocked him off with a broom and, yes, I killed him. The picture of him hanging on the feeder is fuzzy as I was nervous. :) The reason the "corpse" is in good shape is because I sprayed him with a foaming bug killer ... after I knocked him off the feeder. Sorry, Preying Mantis lovers. ;)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 10:19AM
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Thanks boozie, Your praying mantis looks like the same one I encountered.

I should have worn gloves when I grabbed him. My hand is O.K. It stopped stinging a few hours later.

You have made me feel better about killing it. I always enjoyed praying mantis being around. I even have had them sit on my shoulder and walk up and down my arm.

This has been a great hummer year for me. I still have several hummers and do appreciate learning that these bugs will kill our hummers. The fact that they will relocate and stalk the hummingbirds is enough for me to justify "stomping" it. They can have all the mice they want just leave my hummers alone.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:06PM
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Hey, now....praying mantises are beneficial insects in the garden. They'll keep hummer plants pest-free and protect the garden from many detrimental insects. Try not to kill them...simply relocate them away from feeders. And hang feeders where it is difficult for mantises to access them. But don't kill them if you can help it. Give some credit to our hummers to avoid predators (they're pretty good at it, you know!)!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 10:37PM
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The first time I saw the praying mantises was in the tree where my hummers like to perch. I moved him/her to one of my flower beds so him/her could find bad bugs to eat. I am an organic gardener. I have always welcomed them in my yard/garden.

The 2nd time him/her was on the feeder. It took less than a hour for this bug to fly back up to the feeder. This is stalking. At the time I had maybe 10 hummers here. I do not wish to see a preying mantises attack a hummer. I should have worn gloves and if I had I would have taken him farther away.

Just where would you recommend hanging a feeder so this bug could not get to it? They have to fly to get to my feeder.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 1:56AM
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I sprayed him with a foaming bug killer

Overkill. A flyswatter is quicker cheaper and NONTOXIC.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 2:07AM
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Jean, I hang my feeders as high as possible: off my deck railing and off the porch eaves. I have mantises in my garden but have never seen on one my feeders. But if they did start getting on my feeders and if I had relocated them several times and they still "stalked" hummers, I might move them out to the country (several miles away!). But I wouldn't kill them outright and more than I'd kill a ladybug.

However, I'm not being judgmental: if killing a mantis saved a hummingbird's life, I'd do it too. Do what you have to to keep hummers safe! I respect that.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 9:55PM
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I am so glad I read this thread! No wonder I saw them hanging around my feeders last summer! I didn't make an attempt to keep them away from the feeders because I didn't know! Now I feel badly that some may have died without me knowing about the mantis threat.

Next time, I'll put them in a jar and transport them to my veggie garden.

Thank goodness the OP brought this up. I'm learning so much about my little sweeties everyday!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 3:20PM
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mbuckmaster, I agree with you and am feeling some guilt about killing him. When he bit me or stabbed me I reacted. I should have thought to put my gardening gloves on and put him in my granddaughter's bug container and carried him far, far away.

The feeder he was on is hung just as you hang yours.

Also, I don't use any chemicals here and do rely on good bugs and birds to help in bad bug control.

BTW, I noticed that you live in 7b NC. Since I am in 7b GA you can't live that far away. Just where do you live and do you still have hummers? Today I have seen 2.



    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 4:01PM
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Hi Jean--I live in Gibsonville, just east of Greensboro. Most of my residents have left, although I have one regular still here. I do get some migrants, so I keep mine up until first frost usually.

Don't feel guilty...I have reacted to an assassin bug bite myself. It hid on a tomato and I crushed it without thinking after it bit me. What a bite!...and I did feel guilty, considering it may have been protecting the very tomato I was about to eat. But what can you do?...mistakes happen, and there's always a billion more bugs out there!....

Keep up the great work with the organic gardening!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 10:17PM
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I wonder if anyone can help me. I have left four hummingbird feeders out to help the young migrating Ruby Throats from the North. I am in southern Delaware and my local birds left by the end of the first week in September.
I have been having migrating visitors almost daily.

One young bird got here on Oct. 2, and seemed very healthy. On the evening of Oct. 3- I noticed that this hummer was having trouble swallowing. His favorite feeder is just outside my living room window and I have an excellent view.

Through binoculars I have observed this behavior--He drinks solution then raises his head totally skyward and seems to heave and heave(like having great difficulty swallowing) and he can not seem to get the last quarter inch of his tongue in.
I really did not think he would live through last night but he was at the feeder at 7:55 this am(Oct. 5)with the exact same behavior.
Could he have been stung by a wasp? I have noticed a couple at the feeders. Or does he have a disease?
I just want to help the little guy (or gal) live.

If he has something on his tongue he did not get it here. I change my feeders daily.

I wonder if a hummingbird can live through a bee or wasp sting?

I know this seems off topic but I don't think the post on wasps is active anymore.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 8:12AM
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Hi Vickie...don't know the answer to this but you might want to start a separate thread with your question. It's more likely to be seen by more people that way.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 10:11AM
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Thanks Dolly--
I took your advice and hope to find someone who can help me figure out what is happening to this little bird and how or if I can help him.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 1:49PM
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Thanks mbuckmaster, It is good to know that I am not the only person to over react with a good bug.

I have been to Gibsonville many times since a child. My Aunt and Uncle have lived on Bittle Rd for at least 60 years. I use to spend 2 weeks there every summer with my cousins as a child. Many good memories! I grew up on a tobacco farm just north of Winston-Salem in a little place called Westfield near Pilot Mt. I still have family there. Small World!

I still have a couple of hummers here. I keep one feeder up year round. I have a friend close by that had a Black Chin and an Allen visit her from November into January a couple of years ago. The Atlanta Journal has also said that we should maintain a feeder in the winter. There have been many reports of these and other hummers which normally live out west visiting here in the winter.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 10:12PM
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