I know many of you have already had a hummingbird or two. I still feel it is cold for them, and conditions are not right. I have went ahead, against my better judgment, and put a feeder out.
The smallest bird in North America, they connect the color red with food, so they will investigate any red object they can reach. This may be the newest feeder you just put up, your child’s red wagon, or on the handle of your pruners. They are strictly an American phenomenon. Their colors are gorgeous, their flight so swift, they are hard to follow, and they are the only bird with reverse.
All birds can fly forward, and some birds can hover for a short spell, but the Hummingbird is the only bird that can zip into backward flight, too. This is possible because their wings flip over on each stroke low hen hovering or going backwards, so that the leading edge, which remains facing front in other birds, works in either direction. Hummingbirds also work their wings from what would be our shoulder joint, instead of flapping them at the elbow and wrist joints like other birds.
The more you watch hummingbirds go about their daily activities, the more interesting things you’ll see. These tiny birds also fuel their bodies with protein from insects, so you may spot them snagging little bugs from the air or from flowers. A ruby-throated I host regularly patrols the flowers, delicately picking itty-bitty insects from plants.
Believe it or not, hummingbirds do have feet. Although, they are comfortable eating from a perchless feeder, I prefer a feeder with perches, so I can get a good look at them while they are eating. Perches do offer up your feeder to other sugar water birds, such as Orioles and in my case sparrows. This habit used to be nil among songbirds and such, but it is increasing even with woodpeckers.
They have the highest metabolism of any North American animal, except possibly the shrew. They have to eat almost constantly during the daylight hours. At the feeder, they can be hogs. These birds are among the most combative of any feathered species. They often claim a food source and defend it viciously against all comers. Don’t be surprised if only one bird visits your feeder. Others may want to partake but the territorial first arrive may prevent them. I have several feeders in my yard, so I can see them at almost any feeder all day long.
I hope you will at least get your feeders up by May 1 and enjoy your hummingbirds until October 1. Until next time, good birdwatching.