HUMMINGBIRDS ARE HUMMING ALONG and soon they will be leaving our area and for some reason those little hummers leave their mark on our lives. I thought I would share some of our experience with some of the most fascinating creatures. Are you a hummingbird watcher? Do you have a mass supply of feeders in your yard to catch the illusive bombers? If not, you are missing out on one of nature’s mesmerizing creatures.
As a child, I don’t remember seeing hummingbirds. I remember blue jays, woodpeckers, cardinals, sparrows, etc. but for the life of me, I don’t remember hummers. Do many of you remember seeing them in the 50’s or 60’s? I am smiling since many of you weren’t born yet but to all of us who have been bird watchers for a long time, I may have missed many years of joy.
First, let’s learn or review some basic facts about hummingbirds from this article from Defenders of Wildlife
Hummingbirds are small, colorful birds with iridescent feathers. Their name comes from the fact that they flap their wings so fast (about 80 times per second) that they make a humming noise. Hummingbirds can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down. They are also able to hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern. They have a specialized long and tapered bill that is used to obtain nectar from the center of long, tubular flowers. The hummingbird’s feet are used for perching only, and are not used for hopping or walking.
© Matthew B. Propert
Hummingbirds primarily eat flower nectar, tree sap, insects and pollen.
The hummingbird’s fast breathing rate, fast heartbeat and high body temperature require that they eat often. They also require an enormous amount of food each day. Hummingbirds have a long tongue which they use to lick their food at a rate of up to 13 licks per second.
It is difficult to estimate population numbers since there are many different species spanning a large geographic area.
Hummingbirds are found only in the Western Hemisphere, from southeastern Alaska to southern Chile, although most live in the tropics. There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds, 12 of which summer in North America and winter in tropical areas.
Like other birds, hummingbirds communicate via visual displays. Hummingbirds are very territorial and have been observed chasing each other and even larger birds such as hawks away from their territories.
Gestation: 13-22 days.
Clutch size: Between 1-3 eggs.
The young start to fly in 18 to 30 days.
Historically hummingbirds were killed for their feathers, today they face different but equally devastating threats.
Habitat loss and destruction are the hummingbird’s main threats. As hummingbirds are often specially adapted to each unique habitat, each species of hummingbird currently listed as vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN red list are all threatened due to habitat destruction and loss.
The earth’s changing temperatures due to climate change are affecting hummingbird migratory patterns, causing different species to be spotted in locations well outside their normal range, where it may be harder for them to find food.
REASONS FOR HOPE
Hummingbirds in the U.S. and around the world have the benefit of being garden and backyard favorites. Many people put out hummingbird feeders or grow flowers that attract hummingbirds in the warmer months that allow these birds to refuel during their long migratory journeys. What’s in sight is often in mind, and many fans of hummingbirds are doing what they can to keep every backyard, park and garden a friendly place for these beautiful birds.
My husband and I are equally thrilled when we spot one or more at our feeders and we have joined a group for hummingbird lovers. If you are a watcher of the hummers you may want to check out Hummingbird Haven Friends and Family on Facebook
I thought I would share a slideshow of some of our yard hummers and hopefully you are humming along with these lil creatures as you are guaranteed a smile when they show up hungry and allow the thrill of them being so close. I hope you Live Life; Love Life; and Live Life to the fullest with a little hum now and then.
Slideshow courtesy of Greg Miller
(C) Copyright Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced, if known, to original location for credit references.