Can Hummingbirds Live in Captivity? – Unlocking the Truth

Hummingbirds are a captivating species that elicits the admiration of birdwatchers around the globe. However, it is critical to understand that keeping these birds as pets or for scrutiny is illegal in most countries.

In the United States, for instance, it is prohibited by federal law to keep hummingbirds in captivity without a specific license. This is by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which forbids the taking, control, and sale of migratory birds. It is also unethical from the viewpoint of humanity.

I will examine the legal implications and potential risks of keeping hummingbirds captive. I’ll also explore alternative methods to appreciate the beauty of hummingbirds without harming them.

Are You Able To Keep Hummingbirds in Captivity?

Owning a hummingbird as a pet in the United States is a federal offense. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 prohibits capturing, possessing, or destroying various bird species, including hummingbirds, without proper authorization.

Hummingbirds are beautiful, wild creatures unsuitable for domestication and should not be kept as pets. They require a highly specialized diet of nectar, insects, and spiders and ample energy to sustain their incredibly high metabolic rate.

The migratory nature of hummingbirds necessitates that they can undertake their annual journey, something that is not possible in captivity. We should appreciate these birds in their natural habitat and support conservation efforts to ensure their protection.

Why You Should Not Keep Hummingbirds in Captivity?

Hummingbirds are renowned for their vibrant plumage and signature rapid wing movements, which enable them to remain suspended in the air.

Certain species can achieve up to 60 miles per hour speed, making them the swiftest birds in the world. Although these remarkable characteristics may entice people to keep hummingbirds as pets, it is unlawful to do so.

Protected By Law

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 provides legal protection to all hummingbird species found in the United States. This act explicitly forbids capturing, possessing, or selling any migratory bird, including hummingbirds. Any violation of this law may result in hefty fines, imprisonment, or a combination of both.

Harmful To Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds, renowned for their exceptional energy and agility, necessitates ample space for flight and maneuvering. When kept in captivity, these birds are often confined to cramped cages that inhibit customary behaviors and exercise.

Such confined conditions can lead to stress and anxiety, which, in turn, can cause physiological issues and a shorter life expectancy.

Require Specialized Care

These birds require specialized dietary requirements, including nectar and insects, access to fresh water, and suitable illumination. Offering adequate care to a hummingbird in captivity can be arduous, and inexperienced carers may inadvertently cause harm to the bird.

Ethical Issues

Keeping hummingbirds in captivity is often seen as unnatural and unethical, depriving them of their freedom and natural habitat. Hummingbirds require a complex diet that is not easily replicated in captivity.

They also require a specific environment and temperature that can be difficult to maintain in captivity. In addition, hummingbirds have a complex social structure, and their captivity could disrupt their natural development and socialization.

Risks of Keeping Hummingbirds in Captivity

These birds are often admired for their speed, agility, and distinct characteristics; however, housing them in captivity may present certain risks to their health and welfare. This paper will discuss five particular hazards of keeping hummingbirds in captivity.

Inadequate Nutrition

They require a highly specialized diet to meet their dietary needs in captivity, which can prove difficult to replicate. Mainly relying on the nectar of flowers for essential nutrients such as sugars and amino acids, their nutritional needs can be challenging, potentially leading to health issues.


Hummingbirds are extremely energetic birds that necessitate ample flying and exploring room. When kept in captivity, they may be liable to stress from being limited to a restricted area, which can cause agitation, despondence, and other medical issues.


These birds are prone to various illnesses, such as avian pox, salmonellosis, and aspergillosis. These diseases can be particularly hazardous when kept in captivity, with potentially fatal consequences.

Feather Damage

Hummingbirds exhibit extraordinary aerodynamic capabilities due to their delicate feathers, which are essential for flight and thermoregulation. In captivity, their feathers may become damaged or worn, compromising their flight capabilities and potentially leading to health issues.

Legal Issues

It is against the law to own hummingbirds as pets without the requisite authorization in numerous countries. Failure to adhere to the necessary permitting regulations may lead to penalties and other legal repercussions.

In the United States, individuals who are found to have captured hummingbirds may be subject to a penalty of up to $200,000.

Can You Own Hummingbirds with a Legal Permit?

Possessing hummingbirds as pets in most countries without a valid permit is unlawful. Wildlife conservation regulations safeguard these birds due to their distinctive features, such as their capacity for migration and their role in pollination.

To acquire a license, the appropriate wildlife bureau in your country or state must be approached, and there may be certain conditions to fulfill to be granted one. However, keeping a hummingbird as a pet is not advisable even if you have obtained a license.

If you elect to acquire a license granting you the privilege to tend to hummingbirds, the price of the permit typically ranges from $50 to $100. It could be higher depending on the type of license you are applying for.

They require specialized care and a special diet which can be difficult to provide in a residential atmosphere. It is beneficial to enjoy these beautiful birds in their natural environment and to back conservation efforts to maintain their populations.

Is It Possible to Keep a Hummingbird As a Household Pet?

What is the average lifespan of a hummingbird in captivity?

The hummingbird lifespan revealed in captivity varies depending on various factors. On average, these tiny birds live for about 3 to 5 years, but some have been known to live up to 10 years. Providing a proper habitat with a balanced diet and regular veterinary care can contribute to extending their lifespan.


Hummingbirds possess undeniable beauty, but they are not suitable to be kept as pets or in captivity. They require a diet of nectar and insects and the freedom to fly long distances, which needs to be adequately provided in captivity.

Furthermore, their life span, natural behaviors, and instincts can be diminished in captivity. In many countries, including the United States, it is illegal to keep hummingbirds as pets, and doing so can result in hefty fines or even imprisonment.

To appreciate hummingbirds in their natural environment, create a hummingbird-friendly garden with the appropriate flowers and feeders. By respecting these creatures and their habitats, future generations can continue to appreciate the magic of hummingbirds.



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