The Hummingbird Page
Spotting a hummingbird flying around a backyard or garden is an exciting thing to see. There are many things to admire about a hummingbird including its speed of flight and beautiful feathers. Furthermore, people can enjoy seeing hummingbirds visit their garden by adding certain flowers to the landscape or by putting up a simple hummingbird feeder. The combined strength and beauty of a hummingbird makes it one of nature's most intriguing creatures.
The Behavior of Hummingbirds
One of the most remarkable capabilities of a hummingbird is that it can fly in a forward and backward motion as well as sideways. In addition, when a hummingbird is feeding on the nectar of a flower it is able to hover as it eats. This unique creature that weighs just a few grams, also feeds on tiny insects. The wings of a hummingbird move approximately seventy times per second in normal flight, but are capable of moving a couple hundred times a second. Generally, a hummingbird lives approximately six to eight years, but there are cases of hummingbirds living longer.
Hummingbirds in the Garden
There are certain flowers that help to bring hummingbird visitors to a garden. Brightly colored flowers in shades of red, orange, and purple are particularly alluring to them. Foxglove and butterfly plants are just a couple of the flowers that hummingbirds are known to enjoy. A small feeder with a mixture of sugar and water is also an item that acts as a pleasant invitation to a hummingbird. Once a hummingbird finds an appealing garden it will begin to visit on a more regular basis.
Hummingbirds in History
Hummingbirds have always been otherworldly to observers. The Native American's have stories about the birds and use them in ceremonies. Spanish explorers who, when first landing on America saw the hummingbird referred to them as flying jewels, similarly Christopher Columbus himself called them flying marvels. A few years later a hummingbird skin was sent to the Pope in Rome. This may have been the start of the hummingbird skin sales in the mid 19th century where hummingbird skins were being sold to make ornaments. Millions of skins were being shipped from South America to London, Rome, and other areas of Europe.
Many hummingbirds have names that refer to features of their appearance such as the Violet-Crowned hummingbird and the Ruby-Throated hummingbird. Alternatively, other hummingbirds bear the names of famous figures. For instance, the Anna hummingbird obtained its name from an Italian duchess from the 19th century.
Common and Exotic Species of Hummingbird
Naturally, different types of hummingbirds make their homes in different parts of the country. For instance, the Ruby-Throated hummingbird is a species often seen in North America, especially in the eastern area as well as in the mid-west. The Ruby-Throated species is known for the brilliant red feathers that cover the male hummingbird's throat. Alternatively, Anna's hummingbird can be seen in the west, particularly in California. They like to frequent desert environments.
Hummingbirds aren't all native to the United States however. Costa Rica is home to the Brown Voilet-Ear hummingbird, the Green-Crowned Brilliant, the Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird, the Purple-Throated Mountain Gem, and more. Jamaica also boasts it's own hummingbird population which includes the Red-Billed Streamertail, and the Vervain Hummingbird.
The nest of hummingbird is so small even a person looking for one could miss it. Though hummingbird nests are tiny, they serve the purpose of helping a mother protect her fledglings. The birds usually lay two eggs in a nest of approximately two inches in size. The mother hummingbird creates the nest with a variety of binding plant materials that serve to support the structure.
Considering the incredible flying action of the hummingbird, it's no surprise to find them in so many legends and stories. For instance, they are sometimes seen in Native American legend. In many cases, hummingbirds play the role of a helpful creature. These stories and legends are a tribute to these mysterious creatures.
Migration Patterns of the Hummingbird
Not surprisingly, during the cold weather months many hummingbirds head for warmer climates. Hummingbirds must exist in a livable environment where there is an adequate food source. Mexico is one place where many hummingbirds go to spend the cold weather months. Many species such as the Ruby-Throated hummingbird begin to move north with the return of the spring plant growth.
The Rare Hummingbird
Some species of hummingbirds are seen more often than others. For instance, the White-Eared hummingbird is considered rare. Alternatively, the Ruby-Throated hummingbird is thought of as a more common species. A person should keep in mind that different hummingbirds make their homes in different areas of the country. In other words, one hummingbird may be commonly seen in one area while rarely or never seen in another. Other aspects that may cause a hummingbird to be called rare are hybrid hummingbirds and albino hummingbirds.
- Information on a Spectacular Hummingbird: Read a description regarding a sighting of the Rufous hummingbird.
- Hybrids: This chart shows documented sightings of hybrid hummingbirds.
- Albino Hummingbirds: A true albino hummingbird is extremely rare, slightly less rare is the white feathered humming bird also called a leucistic hummingbird.
Why are Hummingbirds Iridescent?
It is hard to miss the iridescence of a male hummingbird's feathers. The main reason for the iridescence is the intricate make-up of a male hummingbird's feathers. Different amounts of light can cause these feathers to appear as different colors to the eye. An iridescent feather can also appear as different colors depending on the viewer's angle. Furthermore, the iridescent colors of a male hummingbird serve the practical purpose of attracting females.