Was a sleep­ing hum­ming­bird play­ing pos­sum in the yard?

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - Joan Mor­ris Columnist — Al Bruz­zone, Bay Area — Carol Solomon, Oakland Con­tact Joan Mor­ris at jmor­ris@ba­yarea news­group.com.

DEARJOAN » Early in the morn­ing I no­ticed a hum­ming­bird hang­ing up­side down on our feeder. I was able to run some water over its beak and there was a slight move­ment, which in­di­cated that it still must be alive.

I thought that per­haps it just got too cold and went into a pro­tec­tive mode for sur­vival.

I placed it on branch of a plant, up­right. Af­ter ap­prox­i­mately 3 hours I went to check and as soon as I got near, the hum­mer flew away. DEARAL » I don’t think overnight tem­per­a­tures have reached the point where it would cause a hum­ming­bird to freeze up like that, but I do think the bird had gone into what is called a state of tor­por.

When hum­ming­birds sleep, they can en­ter a tor­por state, shut­ting down a lot of their body so that they can save their en­ergy. When they are like this, you can some­times find them hang­ing up­side down from feed­ing perches, their feet locked firmly around the post.

They can ap­pear dead and of­ten will not even re­spond if touched. Once they wake up, they fly away, back into their en­er­getic lives. DEAR JOAN » For the last sev­eral months I have been get­ting what the skin doc­tor says are mite bites. We had an ex­ter­mi­na­tor out, but he said there was noth­ing he could do be­cause we didn’t catch any rats in his trap.

We have a bird feeder and won­der if rats come to it in the night and leave the mites, which our two dogs then bring into the house. Although we give them flea treat­ments, they have been scratch­ing lately.

Could this be the source? Do we have to get rid of the feeder? Do you have any sug­ges­tions? This is driv­ing me nuts. DEARCAROL » Ac­cord­ing to the Con­tra Costa Mos­quito and Vec­tor Con­trol web­site, most mites feed on plants, other mites and in­sects or an­i­mals.

The mite most as­so­ci­ated with in­flict­ing dis­tress on hu­mans is the trop­i­cal rat mite, although peo­ple can have is­sues with bird mites and chig­ger mites.

If you have rat mites, you have a rat’s nest some­where in or near your home. They in­fest the nest and feed on the rats, and if the rats die, they seek the next avail­able host, which could be peo­ple.

The mites lo­cate their vic­tims by de­tect­ing hu­mans’ breath (the out­put of car­bon diox­ide) and body heat. As they can­not fly or jump, they must crawl, and they usu­ally are found in rooms where peo­ple con­gre­gate — kitchens, fam­ily rooms and bed­rooms. They might also take refuge in fur­ni­ture, bit­ing peo­ple when they sit down or go to sleep.

The good news in all this is that they don’t hang around on peo­ple af­ter feed­ing. They fill up and fall off, re­turn­ing to feed again.

You can con­trol them by con­trol­ling rats and get­ting rid of the nests. Vac­uum your rugs and fur­ni­ture, and if you think they are bit­ing you at night, vac­uum the mat­tress and wash and re­place linens fre­quently.

In­sec­ti­cides and fog­gers don’t work well be­cause they of­ten don’t reach the places where the mites con­gre­gate, but you can ask an ex­ter­mi­na­tor to spray in at­tics and crawl spa­ces where rats might have been.

No need to bring in your feeder, but I would take the dogs to the vet to check for bites.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.