Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Humming right along

Humming right along of course refers to hummingbirds. They are so small, so fast and magical to me.

"Hummingbirds are birds that comprise the family Trochilidae. They are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) range. Indeed, the smallest extant bird species is a hummingbird, the 5-cm Bee Hummingbird. They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 12–80 times per second (depending on the species). As well to conserve energy while they sleep or when food is scarce, they have the ability to go into a hibernation-like state (torpor) where their metabolic rate is slowed to 1/15th of its normal rate. They are also the only group of birds able to fly backwards. Their English name derives from the characteristic rapid wing beats. They can fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (54 km/h; 34 mph)." (Wikipedia)
These are the hummingbirds that visit my feeders. There are two Anna's Hummingbirds that stay all year round, in the early summer that number increases and Rufus Hummingbirds also join the group.

Rufus Hummingbird

Hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers, and sugar water from feeders, but they also eat insects and spiders. The nectar is a source of carbohydrate but not much else, it is from the insects and spiders that they get protein, vitamins and other nutrients that they need.

I think this one has just had a bath

Here are two videos I took the first video is a Rufus Hummingbird and the second is an Anna's Hummingbird.

At this time of year there are many flowers to supply the nectar that the hummingbirds use for energy and they usually only visit the feeders in the morning and evening, maybe for a burst of energy.

The throat and head colouring on these birds is often quite intense, you will notice this especially in the last few pictures in this series. Here is an explanation of that burst of colour:
 "Many of the Hummingbird species have bright plumage with exotic colouration. In many species, the coloring does not come from pigmentation in the feather structure, but instead from prism-like cells within the top layers of the feathers. When light hits these cells, it is split into wavelengths that reflect to the observer in varying degrees of intensity. The Hummingbird feather structure acts as a diffraction grating. The result is that, merely by shifting position, a muted-looking bird will suddenly become fiery red or vivid green.[31] However, not all hummingbird colors are due to the prism feather structure. The rusty browns of Allen's and Rufus Hummingbirds come from pigmentation. Iridescent hummingbird colors actually result from a combination of refraction and pigmentation, since the diffraction structures themselves are made of melanin, a pigment." (Wikipedia)

Even though they are very small, you will soon know if you have intruded into their territory. They make a sharp noise and will fly right up and confront they intruder, whether that is the person who fills the feeder or another hummingbird.

The territorial displays and aerial "battles" are quite amazing to watch. They only time that I have seen them share the feeder is late in the evening, when perhaps territory takes a back seat to survival.

A lot of spunk for such a small bird, and they add magic to my world.

Here is another recent watercolour called "Forest Refuge". It is also one I am donating to the Brock House Summer Fair (more on that later).

Thanks again for dropping by, happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week ....