Curiosity takes me to hummingbirds
One of my readers asked for a post on hummingbirds. Thank you, I am happy to oblige as there must be at least fifteen in our yard in Kelowna and I am enjoying watching them. Earlier in July they were draining two feeders daily, despite an abundance of flowers and other feeders close by. A hummingbird needs to eat twice its body weight in food each day with nectar being the primary food source, along with the occasional small insect for protein.
A few facts about hummingbirds from One Kind.org:
- There are 320 different species of hummingbirds found throughout the Americas. They are the only group of birds able to fly backwards and are able to travel at speeds of 54 km/h. When male hummingbirds are diving to capture the female’s attention, they can reach speeds of almost 100 km/h.
- They have feet so tiny that they cannot walk on the ground, and find it awkward to shuffle along a perch.
- Their super fast wing beats use up a lot of energy, so they spend most of the day sitting around resting. To save energy at night, many species go into torpor (a short-term decrease in body temperature and metabolic rate).
- Despite their tiny size, the ruby-throated hummingbird makes a remarkable annual migration, flying over 3,000km from the eastern USA, crossing over 1,000km of the Gulf of Mexico in a single journey to winter in Central America.
- Hummingbirds have only approximately 1,000 feathers on their entire bodies (the least of any birds), keeping them more lightweight for long flights.
- Hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive bird species. They will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that infringe on their territory, and backyard birders often have one dominant hummingbird that guards all the feeders, chasing intruders away.
I certainly saw the hummingbirds chasing American Robins, Gray Catbirds and even Northern Flickers off the Corkscrew Willow and pine trees; however they were no match for wasps at the feeders. They were also very tenacious during a storm. The feeder was swinging in the wind and they were madly flapping their wings to try to get more nectar. They only retreated when the rain became too heavy.
I will certainly miss their antics when they fly south for the winter!