Reader question from Terry
(Vancouver, Washington)What could have caused this, and what can I do about a deformed beak on my newly arrived hummingbird.
He is not one that stayed over the winter here. We have Anna’s all year long. But this is a new male that I’ve now seen for 2 days.
I drilled holes larger in a feeder “just in case” he couldn’t get into a normal feeder hole. But I have also since seen him use my standard feeder.
I don’t believe this is anything to do with feeder cleanliness as it doesn’t look like that, and I’m pretty aggressive at keeping my feeders clean.
You have most certainly done the thoughtful and kind thing to open up the holes in one of your feeders for this unfortunate little hummer.
It is very hard to say what has caused this deformity, but it is not unheard of.
Researchers have been studying similar beak deformities in many species of birds for the last two decades.
You can see for yourself here: Virus linked to Alaska birds with deformed beaks.
And here is another person who had a Hummingbird with deformed beak visit their feeder for a few days.
I agree with you that it is unlikely due to dirty feeders, but we always must remember that birds visit many feeders each day that other people have put out as well.
A similar bird was reported by someone in Arizona to Feederwatch.
There are two things you can do to help this little bird, and you have already done the first by making one of your feeders easier for it to eat from and the second thing I would highly recommend you do is report this to Feederwatch.org or ebird.org so that this bird can be part of the information being collected by scientists.
I hope this helps and keep up the good work!
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