Hummers

hummingbird_lowres

The hummers have been having their sky-battles this week. They are fierce competitors for food. One sits on the feeder, scanning the skies for intruders. Geez. Why not just eat? She nervously sticks her bill in the feeder hole and we see the food rippling and know she’s getting nourished. Here comes another and instead of sharing, they compete. We just realized there’s a third female that’s also trying to feed. We know that because all three of them were mixing it up a few minutes ago. They battle feet first, but also use their bills.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, those amazing tiny birds that fully grown weigh only three grams, are definitely not all sugar and spice and everything nice. But, speaking of sugar, a hummingbird will consume about half its weight in sugar every day. One odd hummer fact? All that sugar being extracted from nectar (and our feeders) creates a lot of water. Most birds have a kidney that’s efficient enough to manage water excess by turning it into uric acid (that white lumpy paste we all love to find on our windshields). Hummers handle their excess water by excreting clear urine–a lot of it. So, if you see beads of water being shed as a hummer leaves a feeder, the little guys aren’t sweating.

One amazing hummer fact? Ruby-throated Hummingbirds make an annual migration, flying 500 miles non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico in the fall. And they fly back over the Gulf in the spring.  Before the migration, they bulk up and add about 50% of their body weight. And no, they don’t migrate on the backs of geese.

One sort of creepy hummer fact? A main predator is the Praying Mantis. Yuck. And bullfrogs. Somehow, I imagined raptors, not big bugs and big frogs.

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