Hummingbirds may be small, but they certainly pack a lot of appeal. Iridescent, colorful and capable of helicopter-like flying maneuvers, they enchant almost everyone.
Hummingbirds were given their name because their wings flap so fast (about 80 times per second) that they make a humming noise. The birds can fly right, left, up, down, backwards and even upside down; and they can hover by flapping their wings in a figure-eight pattern. But a hummingbird doesn’t hop or walk; it uses its feet for perching only.
From Southeast Alaska to southern Chile—in deserts, mountains, plains and tropical rain forests—more than 300 hummingbird species can be found. Their long, tapered bills are expertly adapted for obtaining nectar from the centers of long, tubular flowers.
In the video below, produced by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and West Texas Avian Research, Inc., you can watch some of the best clips from 2016 taken by a camera trained on a hummingbird feeder located in the mountains outside of Fort Davis. The feeders here, at an elevation of more than 6,200 feet, attract hundreds of hummingbirds from a dozen species that are migrating through this arid region.
In the background audio, you may hear the vocalizations of birds such as acorn woodpeckers, western scrub jays and canyon wrens. My favorite moment is when the hummingbirds hang around in midair while the feeder is being refilled.
While historically hummingbirds were killed for their feathers, today habitat loss and destruction and climate change are their main threats. Luckily, because we tend to be enchanted by these little, avian wonders, many of us also put out bird feeders or grow flowers in the warmer months that attract hummingbirds. Such measures allow these birds to refuel during their long migratory journeys, which can span hundreds or even thousands of miles.
Although they are small in size, it seems that a hummingbird not only packs a lot of appeal but plenty of power in a petite package.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,