Saturday, July 18, 2009


Since I am a groveling slave to the hordes of Hummingbirds I support, I thought I would do a little research and was I amazed at what I had learned and I insist on sharing. What got me really curious was that I am pretty sure I have seen my first Hummer fledgling. It is smaller than the others, dull in color and actually has table manners. It will wait patiently on the plant hanger for an opening at the feeder. It has not developed the push and shove mentality of the adults.

This is not my photo of a fledge for while I spent the good part of the day trying, I didn't get anything printable.

Did you know Hummers fly with their hands? Well I didn't know they had hands, but their upper arm and fore arm bones are very short and the wrist joints can't move. The shoulder joint can move in all directions, plus rotate 180 degrees. The don't flap their wings, they fly with their hands. I'm just going to have to believe that for I have really watched and only see a blur.

Did you know that Hummers have the largest brain in relation to body of all birds? This fact I found totally amazing. I can no longer use " you have the brain of a hummingbird" as a put down.

Did you know they have proportionally the largest heart of any living animal.?Awwww.

Did you know that the Hummer's eyes have both monocular and binocular vision (why it is so hard to sneak up on one)? Both eyes will out weigh that all ready mentioned massive brain.

Did you know that they perch but do not walk? Their feet seem to have no function beyond perching and scratching themselves. To move on a branch, even a small distance, they will use their wings.

Did you know that Hummers eat 1/2 their weight per day? So that person who claims to eat like a bird will likely embarrass you at an all you can eat buffet.

This fact really surprised me. Hummingbirds migrate, not in flocks (or in the mythical fashion of on the backs of geese.) but they migrate entire alone. Males leave first, followed by females several weeks later. The young leave last, flying alone on their first migration with no adult to guide them. The Rufus has the longest migration of over 5000 miles per year. Nature astounds me.

Did you know they live from 5 to 10 years in the wild? Their predators include hawks, large frogs and fishes, tropical spiders and this surprised me, the praying mantis. Hazards include spider webs, windows, bad sugar mixes, storms and weather affecting flower growth.

Now the part you have been waiting for, mating. Ladies, hope you don't come back a Hummer if you are looking for love. Men, it is not that bad a deal. This is a breed and run deal for the males. The female locates the male and after getting his attention, he will fly 75 to 150 feet in the air and then drop like a bomb on the female. Mating occurs in flight and lasts 3 to 5 seconds. Ok guys, maybe not such a good deal.

Then however, he is done, free to dive bomb again. The female builds the nest and raises the young on her own with no help from the bomber guy.

That are my Hummer facts for the day. If you want more info go to here. I would write more but they are banging on the window wanting more nectar. Must run.


  1. How interesting! The lecturer at the seminar I just completed, had some Hummer pictures made in Costa Rica where they must buzz around all over the place.

    He was complaining his best picture made in a Macro mode did not stop their wing motion enough. Well I could see the tiny "veins in the wings even though it was blurred. To me it was an astoundingly good photo.

    I am working on a post about my seminar, which are general composition ideas-no technical stuff.

    By the way Arkansas has its own reknown phographer, Tim Ernst, who does workshops which I'm sorry I cannot afford. But he is very good.

  2. There was a photo last year on a blog showing a praying mantis with a hummingbird it had caught. Tragic but then most of Nature is.

    I had a blackbird trying to strangle a small sparrow yesterday, or he may have been trying to crack its skull. Either way, two claps of my hand sent the blackbird away and the little bird, panic striken, flew under some boxwood.

    I read your post with great interest and have read most of this material several years ago when we were swamped with hummingbirds. But no more. We are lucky to get to see one or two a summer.

    I hope you can see my new blog and post a comment. Make history, i say. I am trying to get 10,000 visitors in a short period of time.

  3. I wish I had your problem with the hummers. I still have only three that I can identify, and at least two are competing males. I've seen only one female. All are ruby-throats. One of the males stays in motion while he feeds; the other perches. The female sometimes perches, sometimes not.

    Fascinating information.

  4. thanks for your comment on my Walter Cronkite post

    I'm so glad I came by here

    I adore hummingbirds and have learned so much about them

    plus you make me laugh

    who could ask for more?

    so very nice to meet you

  5. Great information about these amazing little birds. I sometimes don't even think of them as bird, they're more like feathery insects. I'd love to know where they fit in the evolutionary picture. They are quite a beautiful little creature to watch.

  6. Up to this point, I knew nothing about hummingbirds. How fascinating they are. I don't want to come back as one though; their mating habits are too much like some human males....LOL

  7. nitwit
    Glad to know a pro can't stop those wings either.
    Looking forward to your post. Always nice to pick someone elses brain after they do all the leg work.
    I'll check Ernst's site though I'm sure I can't afford him either if he isn't free.

    I was really surprised about the praying mantis though I hear they are very quick.
    Will check out your site. 10000 visitors in any amount of time is an achievement.

    I'd gladly send you a few of mine. They are keeping me running with the nectar. Hope that one lone female isn't being bombed by both males.

    Thanks so much for stopping by. I really appreciated your tribute to a man most of us thought of as a grandfather or even father figure. We did trust that man.

    You know they really are rather insect like. I was a bit amazed by some of the facts. Much more to them than meets the eye.

    I see we think alike. I often thought it would be fun to hover like they do but not wild about being a single mother after a very brief encounter.

  8. We went to San Angelo, Texas one time to watch them band Hummingbirds for migration statistics. Let me tell you, those were tiny little bands. It was all very interesting.

  9. Linda
    You got me curious so I googled banding. Saw some amazing pictures. You were so lucky to see it in person. Now I will be checking my little ones for bands.

  10. Oh this was wonderful, My Dear....I learned a lot of things I did not know! In the summer of 2007, I took probably 1000 pictures of the Hummingbirds that visited two plants of mine that were flowering profusely....The Necter of these abundant flowers started dripping before the flowers opened...And,the flowers lasted for a very long time....I have never seen so many Hummigbirds on a daily basis---all day every day----EVER before in my life! I LOVE them! I am in awe of them more now, having read your post, than ever before!
    There were lots of Hummingbords posts which you might enjoy....If memory serves--it would be July and August of 2007 and quite a few posts after that, too....!
    Thanks Patti...This was Great!

  11. Thanks Patti for the Hummer Education.. I had read all of this in past--but a reminder is nice. I'm sorry that I don't have many hummers this year. I saw ONE today--and that's all. I usually have a big bunch... (Think you stole all of mine this summer!!! ha ha)

    Glad you got to see a fledgling. I've never seen one.
    Have a great Sunday.

  12. I didn't know a praying mantis would eat a hummingbird, must have been an awfully large mantis. I have lots of hummingbirds here since I grow a lot of butterfly bush (buddleia), salvia, and lantana which they seem to love. I love to watch them do their dive bomb acts defending their territory.

  13. OOLOH
    Thanks, I also learned a lot about the little charmers. Just love the internet.
    I will definitely check out your archives. If that plant will grow here, I will try it.

    Gee Betsy, I'd be glad to share. They have reached "herd" status here. They are so much fun to watch.

    Linda Starr,
    I didn't know that either about the praying mantis but Abe Lincoln at the Backyard Birds blog says he has seen a picture of the dirty deed.
    After I read the article, I am not sure now if the dive bombing is defending territory or mating. With most birds it is hard to distinguish between the two acts.