Sunday, November 7, 2010

Amazing Hummingbird

The last hummingbird seen in 2009 left on October 18 evening and I thought I got to pay close attention to see if this will reoccur on the same day this year. It did! 

I continued supplying sugar nectar for another two weeks  (even till the day I complete this blog) and made sure there was no more traveling hummers passing by. Or, if I am lucky to get one wintering hummer here. The total number of hummingbirds I had around my yard reached a peak by the end of August and one time, there were about 28 hummers hovering around flowers and feeders. And you know they are preparing  for their long journey - migrate back to their wintering ground at central and south America. Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world and also one of the most beloved birds all time. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are the most commonly seen species in east of North America and they are very friendly birds and easy to attract to nectar feeders. My friendship with hummingbird started back in 2007 (see Feeding-hummingbird-day-1) and since then I have nothing but admiration for these tiny creatures.                               

Some cool facts of Ruby-throated Hummingbird:
* They are sexually dimorphic (i.e. adult males display iridescent ruby colored gorget feathers, none in females)
* They build the smallest nest (nest & chicks) with two white, tic-tac sized eggs.
* Females provide all parental care including nesting building, egg incubation and feeding youngs.
* Out of 328 species (approximately) of hummingbirds worldwide, there are only 16 species have been seen in the United States. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is the only species breed throughout east of United State and southern Canada
* They are migratory and spend their winter in Mexico, Central and South America.
* During migration, they fly non-stop 500 miles across Gulf of Mexico.
* They eat as much their body weight in one day (their body weigh is about 3 grams).
* They double their body weight at the end of summer before their migration.
* Research shows Hummingbirds return to the same feeder year after year.
* In a normal flight, their wing beat reaches 53 beats per second.

* The figure-8 motion of their wings allows them to easily maneuver to any direction including a short upside down fly.
* In a normal flight, their heart beats is at about 250 beats per minute. It can reach over 1200 beats per minute in a high speed chase or during a courtship display and drops to 50 to a torpor state when they sleep.
* In the torpor state, their body metabolism will lower to one-fifteenth of normal and their body temperature will drop to a hypothermic state at about 30 Fahrenheit (Average body temperature of birds is about 105 Fahrenheit).
* Normal fly speed is 30 mph (48 kph) and can reach over 60 mph (100 kph) during escape or diving!

* The majority flowers attract hummingbirds are red to orange (especially the red ones), thought hummingbirds are not that restricted. The main reason is that most insects can only see in visible and near-ultraviolet light and poorly in red. The red to most insects will be black or near black and becomes unattractive. To hummingbirds, not only do they have excellent regular vision, they see some spectrum of ultraviolet light.
* Their main energy source is nectar and they also consume soft-bodied insects and small spiders to maintain their muscle growth (muscle takes about 25 to 30% of their body weight).
* Native flowers and plants are the best way to attract hummingbirds. (You may find or grow some Native plants for hummingbirds in your own backyard.)
* Alternatively, you can put out hummingbird feeders with freshly made sugar nectar. See easy nectar recipe here.
* Average life-span is about 3 and 1/2 years according to data from hummingbird banders. Note: the longest living hummer is Broad-tailed Hummignbird at more than 12 years.

Finally, some other species of hummingbirds do stay in Georgia and other southeast states for winter. The most reported hummers are Rufous (photo link is kindly provided by Rachel Cass),  Calliope (photo link is kindly provided by Georgia Hummers) and Buff-bellied (photo link is kindly provided by James Fleullan), according to ebird. You can also plant some fall and winter plants to help attract any possible wintering hummingbirds by following these simple tips provided by Rusty Trump and I will definitely give a try in coming spring:

"One of the best in the fall is Pineapple Sage.  It is a type of salvia that blooms late fall until frost and hummingbirds love it.  It is a perennial and you usually plant it in the spring and it comes back every year if you put leaves or mulch on the roots.  Others that are good later in fall and winter are Mahonia, which blooms usually around Feb/March, Winter Honeysuckle that blooms sometimes in Jan.  Also winter blooming Camelias are good.  Look for the single bloom Camelias as I have been told the double blooms don't have nectar and will not attract the birds as well.  The other thing for these winter hummers is cover.  They really like plants like Wax Myrtle to rest and roost in and other evergreen trees and shrubs."
See my other clips and short films at Simorgh Studio Production.

I welcome your suggestion, question or comment. -- Happy Birding! -- Linda


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  1. Wonderful shots!
    You would be welcome to contribute and help to begin a new endevour called "World Bird Wednesday" a chance for bird photographers to share and spread word of their blogs to others!
    Visit and check it out!

  2. I´m not sure the comment worked?

    Very informative psot. :)

  3. Your love for this subject matter shines through in every word and picture. I learned so much. And while all that is magnificent, your video is what really blew me away. It is peaceful, inspiring, informative and fun. How did you do that? This tiny movie begs to be shared. You are brilliant, I am humbled and I have been here for an hour!

  4. Yes, all comments will be posted immediately and I am glad you all enjoy Wings Spirit.

  5. Springman,
    Thanks for linking WingsSpirit to your site. And, thank you for your very kind comment. Due to limited manpower, I can only compose and edit limited videos and clips. I wish one day my voice and passion for birds and nature can be heard by as many peopel as possible. There are so many great blogs and websites and I am still a "new born" and, I am still learning.


    Linda Liu

  6. Linda your blog r awesome,especially tis hummingbird article.......5 stars :)


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