About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Hummingbird time

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds begin migrating into Michigan mid-April and by Mother’s day they have probably settled into their nesting territories.

If you haven’t put your feeder up, what are you waiting for? It’s not too late! Hummingbirds don’t need your feeder to survive, but they might appreciate a reliable source of food with this cold spring we’ve been experiencing. Also these incredible little birds are fascinating to watch and a hummingbird feeder can bring them up close.

Only about 50% of all hummers survive their first year. Cold weather takes a toll on all hummer species because their high-energy requirements don’t allow them to go without food for long.

When they aren’t at the feeder, hummingbirds find nectar from a variety of flowers as well as sap from trees. Throughout the day a hummer drinks more than half its body weight in nectar. But that pointy hummingbird bill isn’t only for sipping nectar; it’s also made for snatching bugs out of the air.

Hummingbirds eat a lot of insects and spiders. They are excellent hunters. Hummingbirds can catch insects in flight, or pluck them from leaves, or catch spiders from their webs. (Sometimes I suggest throwing old fruit or banana peels near your hummingbird feeders to attract fruit flys for the hummers.)

When a hummingbird goes for an insect, it rushes at it with its mouth wide open, and the lower half of its bill can bend downward, even though it has no joint. But they're so fast it takes a camera that films 500 frames a second to capture the move.
 
PBS’s Nature produced an interesting documentary that explains how these tiny birds survive. You can watch the full episode, Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air, online at: http://video.pbs.org/video/1380512531/

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