A whirr of wings
Motionless, as if perched on an invisible precipice
Along with owls, hummingbirds are my favorite family of birds. They belong to the avian family Trochilidae; their closest relatives are swifts. The almost 340 hummingbird species are found only in the Americas.
Traveling beyond the “New World”, the niche of nectar-sipping birds is filled by other fascinating families, like the Nectariniidae, which include sunbirds and spiderhunters, and the Meliphagidae, which include honeyeaters (look out for Part 2). More about hummers:
*They’re the only birds that can fly up, down, sideways, forwards, and, backwards.
*They fly at an average speed of 25-30 miles per hour, and are able to dive at a speed of up to 50 miles per hour.
*Their average lifespan is 5 years, but they have been known to live for more than 10.
*Some travel over 2,000 miles twice a year in migration.
*They have tiny hairs on their tongues to help them lap up nectar, similar to cats.
*No sense of smell, but can hear much better than humans.
*They can see in ultraviolet light and further than a human.
*A great memory: they remember every flower they’ve been to, and how long it will take a flower to refill. Their brains make up 4.2% of their body weight. Proportionally speaking however, they have the largest brains of wild birds.
*When food is scarce and they are fatigued, they go into a hibernation-like state (known as torpor) to conserve energy.
*You can provide all the nectar they need by having the right plants, natives a plus. Many choices including salvia (especially the variety, Amistad), columbine, petunia, catmint, penstemon, bee balm, weigela, flowering currant, to name just a few. #wander #birds #wellbeing
Sit back and watch them, enjoy!