Hummingbirds

Female Rufous Hummingbird Sets Record

A female Rufous Hummingbird recently set a record for the longest distance between banding and recapture of any species of hummingbird. The bird traveled 3,500 miles from Tallahassee, Florida to Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The bird was banded in Florida by Fred Dietrich and then recaptured in Alaska by Kate McLaughlin.

This information was in published in a recent issue of National Wildlife Magazine, page 18, and sent to me by my brother-in-law, Paul. I cannot give the exact date of the issue because all I was sent was the clip about this out of the magazine. I just thought that you might find the above information to be interesting like I myself did.

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Interesting Hummingbird Flight Facts

It is a common misconception that hummingbirds actually fly faster then many others species of birds. The reason for this mistaken believe is probably due to the small size of the hummingbird and the fact that this small size makes the bird hard to see while it is in flight and this gives the illusion of greater speed then occurs in actuality. The peregrine falcon is the fastest flying bird, which can reach speeds of 175 mph. Also, the Duck Hawk was measured at speeds of between 160-180 mph. By comparison, hummingbird flight is actually quite slow because their normal top flight speed is between 25-30 mph, but it can reach much higher during a courtship display.

It only takes 1/500th of a second for a hummingbird to complete a wing beat cycle.

Hummingbird flight will occur in only three of these cycles.

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The Hummingbird’s Amazing Metabolism

Yes, hummingbirds do indeed have a very high metabolic rate, but nevertheless hummingbirds do not eat until they are full at every opportunity. During daylight hours, the hummingbird will eat frequently for short periods of time. A hummingbird will feed 5-8 per hour with each one only lasting about 30 seconds in length. At night, the hummingbird will eat as heavily as the nectar supply will allow. The hummingbird may store a third of its weight in nectar to ensure that it will survive its overnight fast while maintaining its normal resting metabolic rate.

It is important to keep in mind that a hummingbird can starve to death in as little as two hours. This is why it must store so much of its weight in nectar to ensure it will survive the night.

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How Much Nectar Do Hummingbirds Need?

Just how much nectar does a hummingbird require each day? Unfortunately, there is no exact or set amount. All that can be stated with certainty is that a hummingbird will require one and a half times its body weight in nectar each day to fulfill its daily energy requirements. The exact amount of nectar that a hummingbird will need to consume on any given day will very depend on many different factors. This includes the bird’s activity level, the current air temperature, the quality of available resources, and the time of year.

With this in mind, you can see why having plenty of natural food sources as well as hummingbird feeders in your yard is important. The hummingbirds will thank you for having provided such dependable sources of food and you will be able to enjoy the antics and aerial displays put on by the hummingbirds.

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Amount of Nectar vs. Smell

While it is true that both hummingbirds and butterflies like many of the same flowers, if your goal is specifically to attract hummingbirds to your yard, it is extremely important to know that hummingbirds have no sense of smell. This fact will have a great impact on the specific flowers you would choose to place in your yard.

A hummingbird is far more interested in the amount of nectar a flower will produce rather then the scent of the flower. A good choice for a hummingbird garden would be Hibiscus, which has large, open tubular shaped flowers and because it provides an abundant amount of nectar. The “Turk’s cap”, a close relative of the Hibiscus, is another popular hummingbird attractant because of its red cup like flowers.
The color red is known to help attract hummingbirds. The reason for this may be that the red is far easier to the hummingbird to see at a far off distance or that the hummingbird is able to see into the ultra violet range. Also, it is believed that red flowers tend to contain more nectar than other types of flowers, as do tubular shaped flowers.

This not to imply that all the flowers found in your hummingbird must be red. Far from it, hummingbirds like flowers of almost any color including pink, orange, yellow, purple and so many more. Any of the following suggestions would please the hummingbirds: impatiens, yellow bells, shrimp plants, and begonias are just a few flower bearing plants. Just keep in mind that the hummingbirds have no sense of smell and therefore desire plants that produce large amounts of nectar.

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"7 Secrets of Attracting, Feeding and Identifying Hummingbirds"

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