Over 80% of hummingbird species require forested habitats to fulfill a life history component. Forested habitats are not static and are affected by a variety of direct and indirect influences. The natural resources that comprise these habitats also have commercial value. Resources such as timber, firewood, clean water, minerals, game and fish, berries, mushrooms and many others are commonly harvested from the land and contribute to the constantly changing environment of these habitats.

Other influences are less obvious or direct, but also contribute to changing environments. Stressors such as wildfire, ground water pumping, insect or disease outbreaks, invasive species, and chemical pollution also contribute to changes in forested habitats.

The Bird Conservation Plans, created by the California Partners In Flight (CalPIF) and PRBO Conservation Science, are for every land manager and researcher interested in improving specific habitats for landbirds. Following the guidelines of the International Partners in Flight Flight Plan, habitat-based Bird Conservation Plans (BCPs) facilitate that goal by stimulating a proactive approach to landbird conservation.

The Partners in Flight Tri-National Vision for Landbird Conservation was announced in May 2010: “Our three nations of Canada, Mexico, and the continental United States are home to more than 1,150 species of birds, including 882 native landbird species. Conserving our shared birds will require a continental, and ultimately hemispheric, perspective and a commitment to international cooperation.”

The Hummingbird Monitoring Network Mission and Vision summarizes the background, creation, and development of the HMN, and prioritizes key action items need to continue the conservation of hummingbirds and their habitats.

Maintaining and Improving Habitats for Hummingbirds in:

General Habitat Information:

Farm Bill Programs for Pollinator Conservation: The Natural Resources Conservation Service National Plant Data Center, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and San Francisco State University provide (1) an overview of Farm Bill programs that can benefit pollinators, (2) a list of on-the-ground actions for pollinators, (3) a treatment of how the on-the-ground actions link up with specific needs of pollinators (e.g., forage foods), (4) a list of additional resources for pollinator conservation, and (5) recommended state-level actions for pollinators.

Attracting Pollinators for Gardeners (Pollinator Partnership)

Pollinator Friendly Planting Guides (Pollinator Partnership)

Design a Hummingbird Garden (Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Gardening for Pollinators (US Forest Service)

California Native Plants Used by Hummingbirds (Las Pilitas Nursery)

Additional Resources and Events (World Migratory Bird Day)

Three primary threats—global climate change, invasive species, and habitat destruction—were identified at the April 2009 WHP Workshop as being of highest concern for hummingbirds. Perhaps, the greatest threats to hummingbird survival is the effect of changing climates on flowering phenology, where even minor changes in climate can produce large changes in nectar availability and in blooming dates that may decouple the mutualism between hummingbirds and the plants they pollinate. Loss of forest habitat either by direct destruction or alteration by invasive plants is also of great concern. Modification of hummingbird habitats continues to increase and will likely change the distribution and viability of hummingbird communities, as well as exacerbate the impacts of climate change on plant phenology (e.g., Bazzaz 1998, Gienapp et al. 2005).

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The WHP provides:

  • Information on how various land management activities and other stressors affect hummingbirds and their habitats.
  • Identification of primary threats to hummingbirds and their habitats.
  • Identification of important habitat components for which to manage.
  • List of recommended plants for restoration, commercial and/or personal use.
  • Prioritization of habitat improvement needs.
  • Identification of habitat improvement techniques.

The WHP will also develop effective ways to distribute this information to land managers throughout western North America.

Check out these resources for more information:
Fire is a factor of particular concern in western North America with regard to managing hummingbird habitats. Fires impact hummingbirds by affecting nesting substrate, foraging resources (nectar and other foods), predation, migration habitat, wintering habitat, and presence of invasive plant species. Characteristics of fire that are important for hummingbird conservation include: spatial, temporal (seral/successional stages), severity, vegetation/habitat type (e.g., forest, shrubland, desert, etc), and historic fire regime (which incorporates many of the other factors). Fire management practices, such as prescribed burning and post-fire restoration, can have significant effects on the regeneration of nectar resources and could be developed as a valuable management tool for enhancing and restoring hummingbird habitats.