A little about hummingbirds
Don't you just love hummingbirds? As a family of birds, they really are quite remarkable and unique. For one thing, they are so tiny you just might mistake them for a large insect.
The Cuban Hummer is the smallest bird in the world. In the United States, our smallest hummingbird is the Calliope, measuring just under three inches. The Ruby-Throated hummingbird is a tiny member of the species as well, measuring only three to four inches long.
Hummingbirds reach impressive speeds of flight and wing beats per second and, quite incredulously, migrate over very long distances.
Amazing as it seems, they live their lives mostly in the air. The hummingbird eats, drinks, mates and even sleeps while flying! In addition, the hummingbird family (Trochilidae) alone contains more than 300 species(yes, I said 300!!!)
Read on for more information about these simply fascinating birds.
My Baby Hummingbird - Such a sweet video!
You are unlikely to see anything but theRuby-Throated Hummingbird from a line extending through North Dakota and Eastern Kansas south to eastern Texas all the way to the area stretching to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
Quarelsome little birds, they mutter irritably to themselves most of the time between sips of nectar. In addition to nectar they eat small insects and sometimes snack on maple or other sap seeping from bark punctured by the sapsuckers.
The nest of the ruby throated hummingbird is an inch deep and an inch in diameter and is built anywhere between 5 and 50 feet high on a small limb a of a tree in orchards or woods, very often over water. The nest is made of flower and leaf buds and is lined with plant down, and it is held together by spider webs or caterpillar silk. Old nests are renewed the following season. Other hummingbirds build similar nests.
We applied this feeder to our kitchen window and attracted many hummingbirds. Watching hummingirds is a nice thing to do while you're eating your breakfast!
Hummingbirds in Action
The Rufous Hummingbird is found as far north as Alaska, east to western Montana and south to central California.
The Rufous is the most aggressive of a highly aggressive family of birds. Both sexes defend their territory, a practice common to all hummingbirds. The female defends the nest area while the male defends the feeding territory.
He's especially attracted to red flowers, but he likes sap too. He catches insects from the air and also plucks them from plants and flowers.
Despite their aggressiveness, Rufous hummingbirds sometimes nest close together, two to twenty feet from the ground. Sometimes they build a new nest on top of an old one. The females have the entire responsibility of building the nest, incubating the eggs, and feeding the young for a period of about 20 days.
Mating Dance in Spring
After the nest is prepared by the female, she sets off in search of a mate. When she finds one, he performs the most dazzling of aerial displays, always facing the sun to show off their shimmering feathers during performances.
After mating for 3 to five seconds, the birds go their separate ways. The female goes back to her nest while the male resumes his day's work.
The hummingbird lays 2 extremely tiny eggs, each weighing less than one-half a gram. To give you an idea of how small the eggs actually are, you could mail up to 60 eggs with one stamp! She sits on her eggs to keep them warm until they hatch approximately 15 to 20 days later.
The newborn hummingbirds look like raisins with a light covering of downy feathers along their back. The mama hummingbird feeds her little babies every 3 minutes at first by plunging her bill down their throats.
Twelve days after the baby hummingbirds are born they are covered with feathers, and one week later they are flapping their wings. Soon after the chicks begin to practice flying by hanging on to the rim of the nest and "humming" their wings. After being alive approximately one month, they are ready to fly from the nest.
The mama hummingbird's work is done although she may check on her young a few more times. While the chicks are ready to begin a life of their own, the mother goes on to raise a new brood.
A hummingbird nest
Spring is a very busy time in the the life of the ruby-throated hummingbird. It begins with the huge job of building a very tinynest which is only as big as half a Ping-Pong ball! A single penny will fit snuggly into the nest when it's finished.
It is built by the femaile by stitching the walls together with spider silk and gluing them with her saliva and pushing cottony down into the lining with her feet. She will then add moss to the outside as a camouflage.