Oriole feeder hummingbird hazard

This must be a rare occurrence since I hadn’t heard of it before, but to help make more people aware of the potential for harm I’m reposting this message a colleague and neighbor sent to the Arizona-New Mexico birding listserve:

Last spring, due to orioles raiding my hummer feeders incessantly, I purchased a new feeder designed more for orioles, offering larger holes to the nectar, as well as recessed squares on top to place jelly for orioles. This worked well, drawing the orioles from the hummer feeders.

However, the hummers recently began feeding on the nectar from this feeder as well. I put two small bits of jelly out about 2X per week for the orioles. Yesterday a.m., I did this again. When I returned home after work, I discovered a male Black-chinned Hummer hopelessly stuck in one of the small globs of jelly, not feet first, but almost face-down. I’m guessing one of its relatives bumped or pushed him and he went belly first into the jelly. I suppose this possibility should’ve occurred to me, but it didn’t. I retrieved the little guy, who was exhausted and missing numerous feathers, presumably from the struggle to escape. I actually washed the jelly off him as best I could, and got him to take some nectar before sunset. He weakly flew off to roost low in a nearby tree. He surprisingly survived the night, still barely able to fly. I again got him to take some nectar this morning, but he was still flying very weakly at best this a.m.

I relay this to folks to be aware of putting jelly out for orioles. This is a popular practice, but can become a death trap to hummers in some circumstances. The amount I put out has always been rather small, not a lot at all. But the orioles will now have to settle only for nectar as I will not put jelly out again. I purchased this feeder from a well-known, specialized birding retailer, and it’s certainly not their fault. It seemed like a very cool feeder. This could be a bit of a design flaw, however. Just a heads-up. Thanks.

Glenn Klingler
Wildlife Biologist
Elfrida, AZ


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