Can You Have A Hummingbird As A Pet? A Look At The Possibilities

Hummingbirds are captivating creatures that seem like ideal petite pets. However, while it may seem enticing to keep one of these tiny, delicate birds as your own personal companion, caring for a hummingbird properly as a pet requires very specialized knowledge, equipment, and licensing.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: It is illegal to keep hummingbirds as pets in the United States without special permits, and their complex care makes them very challenging pets even for experts.

Legalities of Owning a Hummingbird

While hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that captivate our attention with their vibrant colors and unique behaviors, it’s important to understand the legalities surrounding owning a hummingbird as a pet.

These tiny birds are protected by both federal and state laws, and there are specific regulations in place to ensure their well-being and conservation.

Federal and State Laws

Hummingbirds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, a federal law that aims to conserve migratory birds and their habitats. This means that it is illegal to capture, possess, or sell hummingbirds or their eggs without the necessary permits.

Violating this law can result in significant fines and penalties.

Additionally, individual states may have their own regulations concerning the ownership of hummingbirds. It is essential to research and understand the specific laws in your state before considering keeping a hummingbird as a pet.

Some states may require permits or licenses for rehabilitation or educational purposes, while others may prohibit private ownership altogether.

Rehabilitation Permits

If you come across an injured or abandoned hummingbird and wish to help, you may need a rehabilitation permit. These permits are typically issued by wildlife agencies or organizations and allow individuals to care for injured or orphaned hummingbirds until they can be released back into the wild.

Rehabilitating hummingbirds without the proper permits is illegal and can have serious consequences.

Rehabilitation permits often require individuals to undergo training and follow strict guidelines to ensure the well-being and proper care of the hummingbirds. This includes providing appropriate housing, nutrition, and medical attention.

It is vital to work closely with wildlife professionals or organizations to ensure that you are providing the best care possible for these delicate creatures.

Fines and Penalties

Violating the laws surrounding the ownership of hummingbirds can result in hefty fines and penalties. The exact amount of the fines may vary depending on the severity of the offense and the jurisdiction. In some cases, individuals may also face imprisonment.

It is crucial to remember that these laws are in place to protect hummingbirds and their natural habitats. Hummingbirds are wild animals that thrive in their natural environment, and attempting to keep them as pets can be detrimental to their well-being.

Instead, it is recommended to create a welcoming habitat in your backyard that attracts hummingbirds naturally, allowing you to enjoy their presence ethically and responsibly.

For more information on the legalities of owning a hummingbird, you can visit the official website of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at

Ethical Concerns About Pet Hummingbirds

While the idea of having a hummingbird as a pet may seem fascinating, it is important to consider the ethical concerns surrounding this practice. Keeping a hummingbird as a pet can lead to various issues that can have negative impacts on the bird’s well-being.

Stress on the Bird

Hummingbirds are highly active and agile creatures that require a significant amount of space to fly and feed. Keeping them in captivity can be extremely stressful for these birds, as they are confined to a limited area that restricts their natural behaviors.

The lack of freedom and stimulation can lead to boredom, frustration, and even physical health problems.

Capturing From the Wild

One of the major ethical concerns associated with pet hummingbirds is the practice of capturing them from the wild. Hummingbirds are wild animals that are meant to live in their natural habitats. Capturing them for the purpose of keeping them as pets disrupts their natural ecosystems and can have devastating consequences for their populations.

It is important to respect their natural habitats and allow them to thrive in their own environments.

Lifespan in Captivity

Hummingbirds have a relatively short lifespan, typically ranging from 3 to 5 years in the wild. However, their lifespan in captivity is often significantly shorter. The stress of confinement, improper diet, and lack of natural stimuli can lead to health issues and a reduced lifespan for pet hummingbirds.

It is important to consider the well-being of these birds and provide them with the proper care they need to thrive.

For more information on the ethical concerns of keeping hummingbirds as pets, you can visit the Hummingbird Society website. They provide valuable resources and information on how to appreciate these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats without causing harm.

Housing and Feeding Requirements

While hummingbirds are fascinating creatures to observe in the wild, many people wonder if they can be kept as pets. While it is not common to have a hummingbird as a pet, in some cases, it may be possible.

However, it is important to understand the specific housing and feeding requirements that come with keeping a hummingbird in captivity.

Very Specific Cage Setup

Hummingbirds require a very specific cage setup to ensure their well-being. The cage should be large enough to allow the bird to fly around and exercise its wings. It should also have enough perches for the hummingbird to rest and feel secure.

Additionally, the cage should be made of a material that allows for proper ventilation and cleaning. It is important to mimic the natural environment of a hummingbird as closely as possible to ensure its health and happiness.

Nectar Diet and Feeding

Hummingbirds have a unique diet consisting mainly of nectar from flowers. If you decide to keep a hummingbird as a pet, it is essential to provide a proper nectar diet. This can be achieved by offering a commercially available hummingbird nectar solution, which can be found in pet stores or online.

It is important to avoid using honey or artificial sweeteners, as they can be harmful to hummingbirds. Fresh water should also be provided daily for hydration.

Mimicking Natural Environment

Mimicking the natural environment of a hummingbird is crucial for its well-being. This includes providing plants and flowers that attract hummingbirds. There are specific plants that hummingbirds are attracted to, such as trumpet vines, bee balm, and salvia.

These plants provide a natural food source and also create a stimulating and enriching environment for the bird. Additionally, it is important to provide adequate sunlight and temperature regulation to mimic the natural habitat of a hummingbird.

It is important to note that while it may be possible to have a hummingbird as a pet, it requires a significant amount of knowledge, dedication, and resources to properly care for these delicate creatures.

It is always recommended to consult with experts or wildlife conservation organizations before considering keeping a hummingbird as a pet. Additionally, it is important to prioritize the conservation and protection of hummingbirds in their natural habitats.

Providing Proper Care

Social, Mental, and Physical Needs

While it may be tempting to keep a hummingbird as a pet, it’s important to understand that they are wild animals and have specific social, mental, and physical needs. Hummingbirds are highly active creatures that require plenty of space to fly and explore.

In captivity, they can become stressed and suffer from boredom if not provided with enough stimulation. It is recommended to create a spacious aviary or enclosure with natural foliage, perches, and enough room for them to fly around.

Hummingbirds are also social animals and thrive in the company of their own kind. Therefore, if you are considering keeping a hummingbird as a pet, it is advisable to have at least two or more birds to ensure they have companionship.

This will help prevent loneliness and promote their overall well-being.

Grooming and Cleaning

Grooming and cleaning are essential aspects of caring for a hummingbird as a pet. Hummingbirds are known for their vibrant and beautiful feathers, and it is important to help them maintain their plumage in good condition.

This can be done by providing a shallow water source for them to bathe in, such as a birdbath or a shallow dish with clean water. They will use this water to clean their feathers and remove any dirt or parasites.

Additionally, keeping their enclosure clean is crucial for their health. Regularly clean their feeders and replace nectar solution to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria or mold. Providing a clean environment will help ensure the well-being of your pet hummingbirds and minimize the risk of diseases.

Veterinary Checkups

Just like any other pet, it is important to take your pet hummingbird for regular veterinary checkups. A qualified avian veterinarian can assess their overall health, provide necessary vaccinations, and address any potential health concerns.

Regular checkups can help detect early signs of illness or disease, increasing the chances of successful treatment.

It is crucial to find a veterinarian who has experience with exotic birds, as hummingbirds have unique physiological and dietary needs. They require specialized care and attention, and a knowledgeable veterinarian will be able to provide the best care possible for your pet hummingbirds.

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Alternatives to Keeping Hummingbirds as Pets

While the idea of having a hummingbird as a pet may be tempting, it’s important to remember that these tiny creatures are best admired in their natural habitat. But fear not, there are plenty of alternatives that allow you to enjoy the beauty and wonder of hummingbirds without keeping them as pets.

Photography and Birdwatching

If you’re interested in observing hummingbirds up close, photography and birdwatching are great alternatives. By capturing their graceful movements through the lens or simply watching them in their natural environment, you can gain a deeper appreciation for these incredible birds.

Photography allows you to capture stunning images of hummingbirds as they hover in mid-air or feed from flowers. With the right equipment and a bit of patience, you can create breathtaking photographs that showcase their vibrant colors and unique features.

There are many online resources and photography forums where you can learn tips and techniques for capturing these fast-moving birds.

On the other hand, birdwatching offers a more immersive experience. By setting up a comfortable spot in your backyard or visiting local parks and nature reserves, you can observe hummingbirds in their natural habitat.

Binoculars and bird identification guides can help you spot different species and learn more about their behavior and migration patterns.

Backyard Feeders

One of the best ways to attract hummingbirds to your backyard is by setting up a feeder. This not only provides them with a reliable food source but also allows you to observe their feeding habits up close.

There are various types of feeders available, including ones that mimic flowers or hang from trees.

To attract hummingbirds, fill the feeder with a nectar solution made from a mixture of four parts water to one part sugar. Avoid using honey or artificial sweeteners, as they can be harmful to these delicate birds.

Hang the feeder in a shaded area and clean it regularly to prevent the growth of mold or bacteria.

By creating a welcoming environment with feeders and suitable plants, you can attract a variety of hummingbird species to your backyard. This not only provides you with endless entertainment but also helps support their population by ensuring they have access to a reliable food source.

Supporting Conservation

If you’re passionate about protecting hummingbirds and their natural habitat, there are several ways you can get involved in conservation efforts. Many organizations, such as the National Audubon Society and the Hummingbird Society, work tirelessly to preserve these beautiful birds and their ecosystems.

You can support these organizations by volunteering your time, making a donation, or participating in citizen science projects. These projects often involve collecting data on hummingbird sightings, migration patterns, and breeding habits.

By contributing to these initiatives, you can help scientists better understand and protect these incredible creatures.

Remember, while it may be tempting to keep a hummingbird as a pet, it’s important to prioritize their well-being and conservation. By exploring alternative ways to interact with and appreciate these birds, you can play a role in ensuring their survival for generations to come.


Ultimately, the challenges inherent in properly caring for hummingbirds and the ethical concerns mean they are not well-suited as pets for most people. Appreciating them through observation and supporting conservation efforts are safer alternatives that foster respect for these captivating birds.

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