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Hummingbirds Are the smallest mighty marvels of the  Avian class of life on our planet. They are the tiniest of the more than 9000 living bird species in our world. While there are 320 Hummingbird species all found only in the Americas, only 18 of those species make it to the United States and of those only one can be found in our Louisville, Kentucky area ---The Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

A note about the architecture of this page.  The thumbnail pictures on the left including animated gifs  can be clicked for a full size view. The thumbnails on the right will point to a WMV video which will be selected to share the Hummingbird experience.  The video sizes are in the 3 to 12 MB range so best suited only for broadband internet connections. 

The Ruby Throated Hummingbird

It is great to know that the Ruby Throated hummingbirds numbers are increasing about 1.5% each year according to some reports, and in this wildlife case human kind is the hero not the villain. So many of us maintain sugar water or nectar filled feeders all across the breeding area which includes most of the US states East of the Mississippi and areas of 7 of the Canadian provinces. It is thought that this abundant manmade  food supply accounts for the increasing population.

Starting in August-September and continuing through mid October most every solitary Ruby Throated will make their way to Central American with the principle Winter destination being Panama and Mexico although small numbers may stay in Florida and other Gulf Coast States. The migration is thought to take place via several routes but most are thought to fly nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico which can take about 20 hours. To me this is an astounding feat. They can achieve this by increasing their weight by almost double normal, before the flight. Next Spring they will head north again to follow the availability of the insects which comprises the essential of their diet. Man can not live by bread alone, and neither can the hummingbird live by sugar water alone. It like the flowers, though provides a source of energy for these high metabolism carnivores.

It seems this summer the Hummers were the most plentiful we have ever seen at our backyard feeders and they provided us with the usual acrobatics and expert forward and reverse flight maneuvers and lots of opportunities to study their behavior.

We continued to see hummers every day through  October 8, but on the 9th which was a very cool day did not see even one, the first time since early May.  The numbers actually stated to decrease noticeably about September 20. It appears that our steady summer visitors started south at that time and the daily one or two we experienced after that were stopovers from the North and on their way to their tropical destination. I expect that any day now will mark the end of the stragglers as the weather continues to cool. Will keep the feeders up for a little while longer but really expect the hummers will be away for the next few months.

It is well documented that the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are very protective of their food supply. I have observed both male and female hummers fiercely guarding the feeders and trying their  best to drive away any and all intruders at the adopted feeders in our back yard. I had placed remote cameras very near to the sugarwater filled feeders and whichever bird happened to be king or queen on the hill used the antenna of the cameras as a sunup to sunset guard post. For most of the summer months, in fact until mid-September any time during daylight hours these perches were occupied . The Video to the right will illustrate.

 

 

The interaction between the male and the female is hard to figure out. While seemingly protective of his food supply, this male and female seem almost to be artistically playful. Of course maybe only to this dreamer. Check out the Hummingbird Ballet sequence in the next video --click on the picture to the right.

The Hummers return to this area in April, as they are following the availability of insects North. My first sighting this year was April 29 and now at the beginning of June they are beginning to appear in numbers.

Please visit  my Wildlife Diary 2006 and 2007 Wildlife Journal for additional and continuing wildlife multimedia features.

Also visit my Hummingbird Picture Album page 2007 Hummingbird

Wildlife visiting our Louisville Kentucky Backyard

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