Getting to within inches of hummingbirds, feeling the wind from their wings on your face, can bring the smile to any child or grownup's face, but are there negatives to hand feeding hummingbirds? When we feed hummingbirds from feeders, there's virtually no risk of the sticky nectar getting stuck on their wings. When we don't use feeders, but simply a puddle of nectar in our hand, or an open cup, the risks increase dramatically. You may ask how the nectar would splash on their feathers, and it's quite simple when these birds are frequently battling over a limited supply of food. These birds aren't messing around when they're hungry. One can knock another off, or into an open food source with bad results. Just like when Vaseline or greases are used around feeders, sticky nectar can also cause harm to hummingbirds. Their wings move, flex, and bend at speeds we can't even see, and sticky nectar or a grease of any sort can be difficult to remove, but also causing an inability to fly properly, sometimes resulting or contributing in their death.
I want to add something to this that I find equally as important. These birds are wild birds. They have predators out to get them all the time, and these predators can also include domestic pets. When we draw in these hummingbirds so close to us that they feel safe and secure nearby, we're creating a false sense of security in them that will put them in danger, perhaps not in your own yard, but in every other yard where they'll assume they are safe around people and their domestic pets. I've heard many stories of cats catching hummingbirds, and this is because young hummingbirds have not developed a fear of things they should. Feed these birds, but the well-being of them should be top priority if you choose to take the responsibility for feeding them. Attract them, admire and take care of them, but the best way to do it is from a distance.