Zipping through the Air

Every year around the middle of March, the hummingbirds return like the swallows to Capistrano.  March is really too early many years because of our late freezes.  One year almost the entire group of early arrivers froze.

With temperatures in the high 30’s the second of May this year, it was a close call.  hummingbird4     This is taken through a window to show how they cluster to a feeder.  Each day I fill four feeders.  I’ve found that if I put more feeders out, then more birds come.  So four a day is all I want to manage.  Then when we leave town for a few days, we hang 15 – 18 feeders.

hummingbird5This was Thursday as the temperatures dropped.  They were feeding more than usual to keep warm.  So all 4 feeders were filled twice that day.

Two feeders are visible from the kitchen sink, so it’s easy to be reminded when they’re empty.

hummingbird2This was taken during the summertime.

hummingbird1Most of hummers here aren’t that colorful unless the sun strikes the iridescent greens and golds on their backs.  But occasionally, we get a Black-chinned one like the one above with a purple throat.

It’s well known that hummingbirds hover and are the only birds that can fly backwards.  But a surprising fact, at least to me, was that they only live in the western hemisphere from southeastern Alaska to southern Chile.  Most live in the tropical areas within that range.

hummingbirdgreenThese are Broad-tailed or Rufous Hummingbirds.

In all of the years we’ve had hummers, I’ve never been able to find one of their nests.  I know they’re tiny, but many of the trees they rest in here are rather short.  Near one feeder, a favorite perch is a Yaupon Holly.  From there, they can view the feeder and other birds.

They use sticky spider webs to hold their nests together.  The stretchiness of the natural materials also allows the nest to increase in size as the nestlings grow.

hummingbirddrinkBy summertime, we will have 60 or more birds consistently in our yard.  We do have some plants to provide nectar.  But they can lick feeders dry in hours.  They use their tongues to lap up the sugar water.

Filling feeders also involves scrubbing the bottles and the holding containers that screw on.  I’ve tried different kinds of brushes.  The ones on long handles with curved brushes work the best.

The birds also consume spiders and other insects and feed digested insects, regurgitated, to their babies.

hummingbirdflutterSitting quietly outside, one can hear their tweets that sound like squeaks as well as the humming of their wings.  And, sometimes, one noisy hummer will hover in front of your face.

Hummers can keep a group of adults and children mesmerized with their fighting, zipping through the air, and other antics.  It’s all about getting the nectar or sugar water, even if you have to poke a fellow in the back with your beak to get him to move out of the way.

“Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.”  Joseph Wood Krutch

1 thought on “Zipping through the Air

  1. Fascinating! I’ve never seen so many in one place before. We fed them in AZ but never more than just a few. They are aggressive little things. They used to dive bomb Joe when he went out on the patio if their feeder was empty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.