Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Migration - Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

The Fall colors are coming into the gum trees, poplars and dogwoods. I’ve filled our 12 bird feeders for all the migrating birds and have left the dead flowers with seed heads standing for the birds so they have some variety and native foods. I’ve already put 4 suet feeders out since fat can make a big difference in energy as many species gear up for migration - an awesome thing.

To think of our tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying so far. This female will probably migrate to Central America. They’ve got a 500 mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico at the shortest distance. It takes them 18-20 hours of non-stop flying. That’s incredible to me!

They fly at about 25 mph which is faster than ships travel. A hummingbird can fly the same distance faster than a ship can travel there. I’ve read that a hummingbird can safely fly up to 26 hours non-stop. Sounds like a miracle to me. Before “our” hummingbirds even get to the coast for the 500 mile trip, they have a 981 mile journey from Central Virginia.

So fragile a praying mantis can catch them and yet so tough to take such a challenging journey. Since I will be spending 9 weeks in Costa Rica this winter, I suppose it’s possible I’ll be seeing the same birds that have been feeding at our flowers all summer long.

Hilton Pond has a great article on hummingbird predators. Learn as much as you can to keep these beautiful birds in our backyards.

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