Care and Rescue of Hummingbirds

In this section

  • Feeding an injured hummingbird
  • Abandoned nest
  • Trapped inside a garage or house
  • Stunned from flying into something
  • Entangled in a spider's web
  • Adult Hummingbird care
  • Baby Hummingbird care
  • Down by prolonged cold
  • Nest repair/ replacement
  • Rehabilitators
  • Arizona rehabilitators
  • Laws

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.

People often want to help/ assist a sick, injured or orphaned hummingbird? We receive many queries but saving a hummingbird is often difficult. It is best to let Mother Nature handle the situation. Often by helping, humans can accidentally hurt the tiny and fragile birds. Hummingbird care and first aid is difficult at best and should be only done by a trained rehabilitator such as a wildlife expert or veterinarian trained in hummingbird care. See list below. However, there are some things you can do to help with hummingbird care and what you do all depends on the situation.


Your time-frame with hummingbirds is less than four (4) hours to initiate care and only about twenty-four (24) hours to get help before it may be too late.

Not all hummingbirds will survive. Very few will make it though any sort of trauma, accident, or disease. Don't fret if a hummingbird you are trying to save does not survive as rescue efforts are extremely difficult at best. Even very seasoned hummingbird rehabilitation specialists will agree that hummingbirds are one of the most difficult bird to save in the time of crisis. If a hummingbird you have attempted to save dies, hope for a better result if there is a next time.


If the hummer is injured or too exhausted to fly you may want to offer some nectar for energy

Hummingbirds eat nectar from flowers and small insects in the wild. To feed a hummingbird you have found, offer nectar, using an eyedropper, place a few drops on the end of its beak. Do not squeeze the eyedropper or push the nectar into the hummingbird's mouth as you could 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 you are holding the hummer in cupped hands you can also position the bill near a feeding port of a feeder and it may start drinking. 

Do not mix anything with the nectar or attempt to feed the hummingbird any other food or insects. Nectar will sustain the hummingbird temporarily until you can get it to a rehabilitation center where it will receive the balanced diet it requires prior to its release back into the wild.

If the hummingbird won't drink, don't force him/ her to do so. Offer the nectar every 30 minutes until help from trained professionals can be reached.

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


Help “my hummingbird nest” has been abandoned!!! Probably not. This is usually not the case.

  1. The female parent bird will usually not sit on the nest once the eggs have hatched and the young have some ability to thermo-regulate (approximately 9-12 days of age). 
  2. Mom may be sitting on a branch nearby waiting for the area to be "clear" before returning to the nest. 
  3. Only the female parent bird feeds the young about four to six (4-6) times per hour.. 
  4. Baby hummingbirds will usually stay very quite so as not to alert predators to their location. 
  5. It might only take her a matter of seconds to feed. 
  6. Watch the nest for an uninterrupted period of 60-90 minutes before becoming alarmed.
  7. If you hear a baby hummingbird chirp for more than ten (10) full minutes, they are usually starving and need help immediately. 

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


Hummingbird trapped in garage

Sometimes hummers are enticed into an open garage by the red accents on your children’s toys or the overhead garage door’s red emergency release handle (federal law).

Hummers natural instinct is to fly up thus humming around the ceiling. And it will be double stressed and nervous with you present.

  1. Keep kids and pets away so you don’t further upset and stress the bird.
  2. Have patience for it to settle down and relax and hope it finds their way out. 
  3. Hang or place a hummingbird feeder near the open door and perhaps it will be attracted and fly outdoors.
  4. If the above doesn’t work within 10-15 minutes close the garage door and turn off the lights and cover the windows.
  5. Hummingbirds have poor night vision and don’t like flying in the dark so it may just go to the floor.
  6. With a flashlight locate the bird and carefully and gently scoop up/ cup the bird with both hands and release outside.
  7. Please don’t use a butterfly net or throw a towel at the hummer as that may injure a healthy bird.

Hummingbird trapped in house

  1. Try the above method(s)
  2. Open windows and doors and maybe it’ll fly out
  3. Try herding it in the direction of a door or window

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


Sometimes a window or object may stun a quickly flying hummingbird. They are great flyers but accidents do happen.

  1. From a distance observe the bird to ascertain the situation
  2. Approach the bird slowly and get close to the bird.
  3. If you reach down toward the bird with both hands it may startle the bird into evasive flight.
  4. If the bird doesn't move, gently cup both your hands around it and lift it up so you can examine it more closely.
  5. Be alert to keep your hand/ the bird close to the ground in case the bird become agitated and falls from your hand it isn't injured further.
  6. If you do not observe any visible sign of injury such as blood, drooped wing or a broken bill, gently hold the bird and insert its bill into a port in a hummingbird feeder.
  7. Gently slide the bill in-and-out of the feeder several times.
  8. You will be able to determine if the bird decides to drink because its throat and crown feathers will move back and forth rapidly; you may also notice the tongue moving in and out of the tip of the bill.
  9. If the bird drinks, the nectar may be enough to stimulate it or kick-start it out of its stunned condition; if it does drink, place it in the palm of your hand and it may fly off.
  10. If the hummer won't drink, don't force it.
  11. If the bird still will not fly, put a soft, smooth cloth---but NOT coarse fabric in which the hummer may entangle its tiny feet---in the bottom of a box with a loose-fitting lid that will be dark when closed and place the hummingbird on the cloth.
  12. Close the box and call a local wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions; a list of rehabilitators is below. If you have difficulty finding a rehabber, call your local veterinarian, keeping in mind that many vets are not trained to deal with birds, wild or otherwise.
  13. An injured hummingbird probably needs immediate attention so try different resources
  14. Hummingbirds eat frequently, so if your injured bird is taking food it should be fed several times each hour.

Nectar is not a suitable long-term diet for hummingbirds; nectar only provides carbohydrates and they need fats and proteins that are normally derived from tiny insects.

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


Hummingbirds often use the silk of spider webs to build their nests and they will also eat spiders for protein. Sometimes they get tangled in the sticky webs. Releasing a hummingbird from a web can be somewhat difficult, given the fragile nature of the hummingbird. Depending on how long the bird has been caught, it may be dehydrated, in shock or injured. Ideally, you should take the bird down, place it in a small box and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to care for the bird. However, if none is available in your area, you may have to detangle the bird yourself.

  1. Gently pick up the hummingbird up using a light and smooth washcloth or hand towel. Covering the bird's head with the cloth will help keep it calm. Do not be timid: the hummingbird cannot bite you or harm you in any way.
  2. Place the bird to a well-lit but quiet area so you can see the spider's web. Keeping the towel or cloth draped over the bird's head will help keep it still. You can have someone help you by holding the bird, but do not allow kids, pets, cats or anyone to unnecessarily hover around or touch the bird. Speak softly and keep the area quiet while you handle the bird.
  3. Moisten (but not soaked) your fingers with water and use the tips of your fingers to extricate the hummer from the spider's web.
  4. Remove all web silk from the hummer's beak, wings, tiny feet and head, as well as any that may be constricting its back or chest.
  5. Put the bird in a small, dark area, such as a cardboard box or small animal carrier with a towel over it. Allow the bird 5 to 15 minutes to relax and recover from its ordeal.
  6. Use an eyedropper to place a few drops of sugar water on the tip of the hummingbird's beak. This will help rehydrate and energize the bird.
  7. Or as above position the beak near a feeder port
  8. Take the box or carrier outside, away from traffic, people, dogs and cats, preferably near some flowering trees.
  9. Open the box or carrier and step back. The bird should fly away on its own within a minute or two. If the bird does not move, or cannot fly away, it may be injured and need more help than you can give. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, veterinarian or your local humane society for help.

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


If you find a sick or injured hummingbird on the ground, check and see if it is still alive. This is extremely difficult since a hummingbird can enter a sort of hibernation state call torpor when they sleep. It may take as long as 20-30 minutes of observation to know for sure if your hummingbird is alive or not.

  1. If their eyes are open, and they are breathing, try reaching for the hummingbird to pick him/her up. 
  2. This may scare them into flying. If attempting to pick up the hummingbird does not work, cup your hands around the hummingbird to pick him/her up. 
  3. Remember that your little hummingbird is very tiny, very light and very delicate. Be careful in case they struggle and fall out of your hand.. 
  4. Place the hummingbird in a small box with a rolled cloth ( shaped like a nest) if the bird needs support. The lid should have ventilation holes on top 
  5. The will probably need attention from a veterinarian that is trained in hummingbird care or a trained hummingbird wildlife rehabilitator. 
  6. The first four (4) hours after injury are critical to hummingbird care. 
  7. Take the hummingbird to a warm (not hot) location. 
  8. If the hummingbird starts to open its beak to breathe or stretches its neck , it is too hot and they need to be moved to a different location. 
  9. If the hummingbird is all fluffed up and looks like a fuzz ball, it may be 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 your hummingbird. 
  10. Make sure the hummingbird is normal before feeding them any nectar.

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


Baby Hummingbirds require special care. They cannot regulate their body temperature and need to be kept warm. Teenagers have pinfeather, and can regulate their body temperature better than newborns. They should not drink the nectar the adults do because they need higher protein content in their food. It is OK to offer nectar however; they cannot drink it for more than four (4) hours without causing sever crippling effects to their bodies. If at all possible, do not attempt to feed a baby hummingbird and get it quickly to a trained professional immediately. Baby hummingbirds need protein. Without it, they will become crippled or die.

  1. Fledglings will not stay in the nest and are not good flyers. Often people think the bird is injured. 
  2. If you find a baby hummingbird that fell out of its nest, check to make sure the nest has not been invaded by ants or other insects that may have been on the attack. 
  3. If the nest is clear, carefully pick up the baby by the torso (body) and place him/her back in the nest. 
  4. Don't worry about mom not returning to the nest because of the smell of humans, hummingbirds don't have a sense of smell. 
  5. Get a chair and watch the nest for one hour to look for mom.
  6. If the nest is not clear of dangers, place the baby hummingbird in a small box or basket and place it in a safe location near where the original nest was. 
  7. Watch again for another hour to see if mom finds her baby in the new location. 
  8. If mom does not return, see if the chick will readily open their mouth for food. 
  9. If so, carefully (very carefully) drop three (3) (five (5) if they have feathers) drops of nectar into their mouth. Offer nectar every thirty (30) minutes until help can be obtained. Get help right away to avoid crippling injury or death. 

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


If you find a hummingbird on the ground when your area is experiencing consecutive nights of freezing you can:

  1. Get a closed ventilated box with a soft cloth ready, gently pick the bird up and place him in the box. 
  2. Put the box in a quiet place away from noise, pets and children. 
  3. Placing in a closet works well. 
  4. Do not give any fluids. 
  5. Write a note to yourself to remind you that you have a hummingbird to check on. 
  6. In the morning just at dawn....carry the box outside and lift the lid.
  7. If the bird does not fly away call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator/hummingbirds for help.

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


Sometimes a hummingbird nest may be found on the ground. This may happen every once in a great while for a variety of reasons – the branch broke, strong gusts of wind blew the nest down, or simply due to the fact that first breeders lack the experience of females that have previously built nests and know how to anchor it securely.

In any such situation, it is better to assist than doing nothing.

  1. You can attempt to reattach the nest by using wire or tape, trying to locate the nest as close to where it was originally positioned.
  2. If the nest is still attached to a branch, the branch can be nailed or screwed to the tree as close to the original position as possible. 
  3. Siting the nest as close to the original position is important as mama hummer intentionally picked the place as it probably offered protection from wind, rain, other species, and predator’s eyes. (Nests are cleverly camouflaged for exactly this reason.)
  4. If the nest has disappeared, for whatever reason, you can make a “surrogate” nest from a small box or similar container. 
  5. Be sure to put some cloth in the bottom of the surrogate nest so the birds have some grip and can’t slip. Remember, these are very fragile birds.
  6. Attach your surrogate nest as best as you can (you can use push pins, thumb tacks, staples, etc.) knowing it only has to last until the fledglings leave the nest, usually within two weeks. 
  7. Pay no attention to the old wives tale about mama bird abandoning their babies if they smell human scent. 
  8. Carefully and gently handle these fragile babies as little as possible. 
  9. Do not put food or water in the surrogate nest. 
  10. Then remove yourself from mama’s sight, as she may not come to care for her offspring if you are waiting and watching nearby. 
  11. Watch from a distance or through a window. It won’t take long for mama to return and care for her babies.

Hello! Right now, I am twelve years old, but when this happened, I was eleven.

Here is the story of my makeshift hummingbird nest. There were two baby hummingbirds in a nest. One day, we found one of them on the ground underneath the nest. I couldn't just leave him there so I made a makeshift toilet paper nest to put the chick in. After he was in, I taped my makeshift nest to a sturdy branch near the original nest. The mother found him in no time, and a few days later, he was able to fly away with his sibling.



And from Boise, Idaho CaSonda reports "I have a hummingbird that nested in my tree on the lowest branch possible and we had big winds last night and it knocked her nest and babies out of the tree. I'm worried about cats and kids getting to the babies that are now on the ground in my yard!! Help!! What do I do". After some email tips CaSondra sent us an email "Used a water bottle and cut the bottom out of it! "Moma is still around after I got the babies in the tree she checked on them and came back with food and fed them while we were standing there. This is our first experience with hummingbirds and we love it and them!!"


Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


Finding help in your area will be the quickest and easiest method

  1. Your local Wild Birds Unlimited store may be a great resource to locate your local hummingbird rehabilitator.
  2. Any local botanical gardens may have access to ornithological experts that can be referenced. 
  3. The Audubon Society has many local chapters that may be useful to find hummingbird rehabilitators.

These lists may be completely outdated and inaccurate. Sorry.


I am a state and federally licensed songbird rehabber in Ohio...... Clermont County..... and I specialize in Hummingbirds.

My organization is :
Ride The Wind Wild Bird Rehab Center

Tracy Brewer
P.O. Box 368 New Richmond, OH 45157

If you are a hummingbird rehabilator please let us know and we'll add you to our list.


The Animal Help Now service, available at and through free iPhone and Android apps, leverages digital technologies to immediately connect people involved with wildlife emergencies and conflicts with the most appropriate time- and location-specific resources and services. Animal Help Now serves the entire United States.

Hummingbird Rehabilitators

Tucson Wildlife Center, Inc.
13275 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson,
(520) 290-9453

Liberty Wildlife
(480) 998-5550

Project Wildlife
San Diego
(619) 225-9453

The Greater Chattanooga Area
920 Glamis Cir
Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377
423-847-5757 or 423-593-3932

DO NOT CALL - Arizona Game & Fish, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Reid Park Zoo or US Department of Fish and Wildlife. None of these organizations take in hummingbirds or give advice. Please contact only appropriate experts. Thanks for caring.


Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


ARIZONA GAME & FISH DEPT- If you are interested in becoming an Arizona licensed rehabilitator, view AZ Wildlife Rehabilitation License Application

UNITED STATES FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICES - If you opt to get a permit for the care of hummingbirds, contact your regional United States Fish and Wildlife Service (permit office) at: The permits will cost +/- $50 (fifty) to $100 (one hundred) dollars or more, depending on the type of permit you may need.

Always keep in mind about the very severe laws
in the United States about having a hummingbird in captivity.


In the United States it is against the law/ illegal to hold a hummingbird, a hummingbird nest, a hummingbird baby, or any part of a hummingbird, nest, or egg, in any type of captivity. We repeat: unless you have a valid permit, it is illegal to trap, band, hold, harass, or control any hummingbird or any part of the hummingbird, nest, or egg.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is the US law that regulates the possession and or capture of any migratory bird. Hummingbirds are included in the list of Migratory Birds that are protected under the United States Code of Federal Regulations.

  • To review the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 law, click:
  • In the act a hummingbird is listed as a Migratory Bird under the United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50, Chapter 1, Part 10, Subpart 13 - List of Migratory Birds. The Citation Number is 50CRF10.13.
  • Other world countries have adopted these rules and regulations in their own form. For those who live outside the United States, contact your local government offices to see if your country has signed this treaty or has rules and regulations of their own that protect hummingbirds.
  • Violation of this law, results in the hummingbird being taken away immediately and a fine of between $15,000 (fifteen thousand) and $200,000 (two hundred thousand) US dollars.


Hummingbird banding has its own rules and regulations. For more information on banding, go to: