Cold and flu season is just around the corner, as the many fliers that I have seen posted all around recently have served to remind me. In fact, when I saw my family doctor recently, he also reminded me of this and he informed me that I would be receiving my flu shot in October. The upcoming flu season and my desire to prevent it got me to wondering about what illnesses are common in hummingbirds. Just like humans, I would imagine that it is common for nature’s animals to become ill. This is a topic that I’m sure you would have also wondered about mom, so I couldn’t help but think of you while doing the research. Here’s what I discovered on the topic and I hope you will find it both interesting and informative.
Yes, mom, it is indeed possible for hummingbirds to suffer from illnesses in the wild. These can include fungal infections and the avian pox virus. Fungal infections can result in black bulbous growths on the bill. As a result, the bill will appear thickened and many times the tongue will also be thick and white, rather then having its normal transparent appearance.
With Avian pox there will be cauliflower like looking growths at the base of the bill, around the eyes, under the wings and on the legs and feet. In most cases, it is usually possible to identify an ill hummingbird its appearance. Here are some suggestions as to what to watch for.
Throughout the day, healthy hummingbirds will likely alert and actively preening, vocalizing, flying and defending territories. Unhealthy hummingbirds are probably those seen constantly perching on a feeder, have body feathers that are puffed out like a cotton ball (during the day), have their eyes closed or have tongues extending out of their bills.
Hummingbirds showing any of these signs will probably require immediate treatment by a wildlife rehabilitator/center as soon as possible. Until then, the most important thing anyone can do to try and help these birds is to provide heat and food.