Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world. Anna’s weigh about .14 ounce, but they can fly at speeds of up to 60 mph.
Unlike other birds they can fly backwards and upside down, and they are among the 1% of birds who can hover.
Hummers fly upright, not flat like other birds.
Their wings rotate 180 degrees, on their shoulder ball and socket joints,
and can beat up to 200 times per minute!
Despite their petite size, hummingbirds have mega-brains. Their brains constitute 4.2% of their body weight, greater than any other bird, and greater than human beings whose brains are about 2% of their body mass. Hummers remember how to fly thousands of miles, they know and remember which humans can be counted on to feed them, and they remember which flowers have the best nectar.
I can’t believe I finally got a photo of a hummingbird’s forked tongue! I have never captured the fork at the end of the tongue because it typically springs open once a hummer inserts her tongue in a flower. But here it is, for us to see!
We have somewhere around 70 or more hummers at The Holler now, so we are getting lots of very bright color. Hummers flash their colors at will, sometimes as warnings when sparring. This guy was caught at dusk, flashing away to keep intruders at bay.
Once a year, at peak swarm, I feed the hummers by hand. I only do it once, for about an hour because I don’t want the hummers to become tame, thinking all humans can be trusted, because unfortunately, as we all know, some humans should not be trusted.
By the way, the white dust you see on this hummer’s beak is pollen.
I saw this photo that went viral awhile ago, where a woman was photographed, with a hummingbird drinking nectar out of her mouth. People loved it, but it bothered me. Did the photographer consider how tiny and wild hummingbirds are? Did he consider how easily this woman’s viral and bacterial load could kill hummingbirds? Did they think about how taming a wild hummingbird, for a photo, through nectar offering, and then withholding, might lead a migrating hummingbird to harm at the hands of humans?
Garden nectar feeder stations have brought seriously declining hummingbird populations back to healthy numbers. Handled responsibly, garden feeders are important for hummingbird population survival. But taming wild birds that migrate, to perform tricks, isn’t helping hummingbird survival.
Taking these photos is very difficult. I have a tripod, but don’t ever use it. Why have a stationary camera in a moving world? Wild animals don’t find this interesting. So, I hold the feeder with my left hand and take the photo with my right. After about 10 minutes this starts to hurt!
Thankfully my son volunteered to hold the feeder.
The Holler hummers do know us and have learned to trust us, many of them were born here. As mentioned a few stay year round and others return annually. Wherever they stay when they migrate south for the winter, they survive and thrive. Maybe they hang out in a garden in Central America where a bird lover keeps their feeders going and the hummers happy!
Cheers to you from the incredible, wild, and much-loved, Holler Hummers~
Yep, we just did it again. It seems as as normal as staying home.There is so much to miss leaving The Holler.
The year round Holler hummers are brave in an non-conformist way, they choose not to migrate thousands of miles across the Gulf of Mexico, but to stay year round with us at The Holler, despite winter temps that frequently fall well below freezing and could easily kill them.
Other migrating travelers visit us seasonally.
There are four hummers that lived at The Holler year-round this year. These are two of them. They rely on our feeders and bugs to keep them alive year round.
Now we have flown off before the full complement of spring unfolds, missing all The Holler spring has to offer. Don’t worry, family remain at The Holler while we are away, to take care of all our critters including the birds.
I look forward to blogging as I travel and hope you will come along with me.
You make traveling a lot more fun and interesting!
3 Flights, 22 hours traveling time, and here we are,
ready to head further east.
Cheers to you from ancient Athens~
(Please do be patient iwth me if I am slower in responding, or unable to follow your blogs as closely as I would like, due to the realities of travel.)
and will feed readily from hand.
My husband and son volunteer occasionally for photos,
as you can see in this photo, but mostly I do it myself, which is really quite comically difficult.
I hold the camera with my right hand and the feeder with my left!
But the experience of concentrating, vibrating, hummingbirds feeding from your fingers, so close to your face and eyes, is so simply phenomonal, that’s it’s worth is above words.
It is amazing what we will do, and receive back, for unselfish love.
The year round hummers have names. Meet Star.
Star got the name because she is my star poser and lets me get quite close. She often sleeps with me a couple of feet away which is incredibly cute! She looks about ready to nod off now.
Yep, here she goes, snoozing the day away. I can identify with a hummer who likes her naps!
This is Flash. He strobes his intense colors at will and frequently. He tends to be a bit more hyper and dominant than laid back Star.
He would never sleep in my presence, but he loves to zoom at great velocity over the top of my head, making my hair flutter!
At the feeder he perches at the back and hides, peeking at me occasionally out of curiosity.
Piloto is Spanish for pilot.
He drinks from the feeder only while in flight, never perching.
Piloto is named for his flying ability.
He is always in super fast motion and is an expert in flying backwards.
He loves to fly about a hundred feet in the air and dive bomb down at up to 6o mph!
Darth is named for his black helmet and his cranky behavior. He will frequently dislodge Star from her perch while napping, just because he can! He is quite entertaining to watch and harmless, albeit the other hummers do find him annoying.
The spring migration will be starting any day now. Up to 40 additional hummingbirds will descend on The Holler. I will hang additional feeders to accommodate the numbers and we have nest boxes going up in the center courtyard. By mid-April The Holler will be humming!
Cheers to you from the The Holler Hummer locals~
I evaluate hummingbird photos by how clearly I can get the feet in focus. If the face is in focus, but the feet are blurry, then the photo doesn’t make the cut.
Besides I can’t believe their birdie feet. They are miniaturized, engineering marvels.
These tiny birds who weigh less than a nickel, have impressively functional feet.
Check out this guy with his landing gear engaged and ready to lock on!
Right now the hummers appear to be miffed.
I moved their feeder so it would be more in the sun for photos, and they are balking about using it.
It’s a hummingbird standoff.
If they refuse to use the feeder for another hour, I’ll move it back.
Cheers to you from The Holler Hummers, who, of course, are always in charge!
I am just their feeder filler~
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