Though we tend to think of hummingbirds as cute, dainty little things, in reality they make bold and fierce competitors. They don’t let their guard down for a moment while defending their territories from other hummingbirds. They must also watch out for other animals that might prey on them, such as American kestrels in North America or tarantulas in South America. Praying mantises are also known to capture and kill hummingbirds, as a reader from West Chester, Pennsylvania, describes. – BWD
The other day while I was working in the yard my son urgently called to me. “Dad, a praying mantis caught a hummingbird!”
Not sure what to expect, but knowing my son is not one to make things up, I came running to see for myself. By the time I arrived it was too late for the poor hummer and my scientifically minded son had already begun taking pictures and studying the scene.
As you can see from the photographs this hungry mantis captured and killed a hummingbird not much smaller than itself. The mantis used its spiny left foreleg to impale the hummingbird through the chest while leaving his right leg free.
We surmised that the mantis ran the hummer through and dangled its full weight on its foreleg while he consumed the flesh of the hummingbird from the abdomen. After he had his fill, the mantis gave his foreleg several swift jerks and freed his leg.
This was an unfortunate experience for the hummer, but we are amazed to realize how fast, precise, and powerful the mantis must be to accomplish such a feat!
Richard L. Walkup
West Chester, PA