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Conservation Of Hummingbirds

In the past, hummingbirds were hunted in large numbers for their beautiful, iridescent feathers, which were used to decorate the clothing of fashionable women. Sometimes entire, stuffed birds were used as a decoration on hats and as brooches. Fortunately, this gruesome use of hummingbirds in fashion has long passed, and these birds are now rarely hunted.

Today, the greatest risks to hummingbirds occur through losses of their natural habitat. This is an especially important problem for the many species of hummingbirds that breed in mature tropical forests. This ecosystem type is being rapidly diminished by deforestation, mostly to create new agricultural lands in tropical countries.

In most places where they occur, hummingbirds are highly regarded as beautiful creatures and pleasant birds to have around gardens and other places that are frequented by people. The presence of these lovely birds is often encouraged by planting an abundance of the red, nectar-rich flowers that hummingbirds favor. These birds will also avail themselves of artificial nectar, in the form of sugary solutions made available at specially designed feeders that are hung around homes and gardens. Of course, only those species of hummingbirds that frequent relatively open, disturbed habitats will benefit from this type of management. The many species that only breed in forests can only be sustained by preserving extensive tracts of that natural ecosystem type.



Brooke, M., and T. Birkhead, eds. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Ornithology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Forshaw, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Academic Press, 1998.

Greenewalt, C.H. Hummingbirds. New York: Dover Press, 1991.

Tyrell, E.Q., and R.A. Tyrell. Hummingbirds: Their Life and Behaviour. New York: Crown, 1985.

Bill Freedman


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—A non-pigmented coloration caused by the physical dissociation of light into its spectral components. The feathers of some birds, including hummingbirds, can develop spectacular, iridescent colors. These colors disappear if the physical structure of the feathers is destroyed by grinding.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Heterodyne to Hydrazoic acidHummingbirds - Biology Of Hummingbirds, North American Hummingbirds, Conservation Of Hummingbirds