Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris)

February 9, 2009 by  
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are widely distributed through North America, and are the most common hummingbirds in eastern North America. They embark on a most difficult migration of 18 to 20 hours non-stop across the Gulf. A truly beautiful bird, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are frequent garden visitors and quickly become accustomed to human presence.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird averages a length of 3.5 inches or 8.9 cm with a mass of 3.1 g. Adult males have an emerald green back with a ruby-red iridescent throat. The flanks are gray and his tail is forked. The larger female Ruby-throated Hummingbird also has an emerald green back, but has a white breast and throat. Her tail is rounded and tipped with white. Juvenile offspring resemble the female, the males developing the red gorget over time. Interestingly, as with other hummingbirds, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s wings beat extremely fast averaging 52 beats per second. Everything about these birds is fast, respiration is at 250 per minute and the heart rate reaches 1 200 beats a minute when feeding. Under normal conditions they fly at a speed of 48 km/h. In a dive they reach 101 km/h. The fast beating of the little wings of the hummingbird make a distinctive humming sound whilst they emit rapid chipping calls. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird has very short legs and has to shuffle across the item it is perching on.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds feed only on nectar and insects (moths, butterflies and bees), using their long bills to reach inside flowers. They are easily drawn to garden bird feeders specially designed for their feeding habits. Males will even become very territorial over their feeder and guard it aggressively. Following an almost non-existent courtship the female will lay 2 tiny eggs in the minute nest built of bud scales. The nest is intricately designed with spider silk attaching it to a tree branch and lichen on the outside as camouflage. The inside of the nest is carefully lined with thistle down, cattail or dandelion. Incubation by the female lasts for about 60 to 80 days. Normally young ones will stay in the nest for 18 to 23 days, though this can vary greatly according to circumstances. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are fascinating birds, a wonder to the eye, so why not purchase a nectar feeder and draw them to your garden.

Birds of the World

February 9, 2009 by  
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Around the world, birds are amongst the most loved creatures due to their variety, beauty and amazing vocal abilities. They are also popular due to their accessibility, that is, even if you live in a built up city you will still be able to see wild birds.

If you are going to be traveling, you may find it useful to purchase a handbook of the birds of the world. Some of the most fascinating bird species live in Australia and New Zealand. The emu is the second largest bird in the world (the largest is the ostrich). These flightless birds are nomadic, feeding on grains, fruits, insects and whatever else is available as they travel. They are able to run at speeds of 50 km/h. Folklore states that Emus have the ability to detect rain from hundreds of miles away.

The kiwi bird of New Zealand differs from other birds of the world in that its nostrils are at the end of the beak and proportionally it lays the largest egg in relation to its body. It can be compared to a chicken laying an ostrich egg.

The world’s smallest bird is the bee hummingbird from Cuba. It is only 2.5 inches in length (6.2 cm) and weighs a mere 0.06 oz (1.6 g).

On the other hand the largest bird in the world is the ostrich. The ostrich is indigenous in Africa, however it is farmed throughout the world. It reaches 9 ft (2.7 m) in height and its eggs weigh in at about 3 pounds (1400 g).

Another interesting creature in the avian world is the Gentoo penguin. This flightless bird is the fastest swimming bird in the world. Their primary colony is on the Falklands.

Certain of world’s birds are endemic. This means that they are found only in that specific area. For example the helmeted woodpecker, black-fronted piping-guan and russet winged spadebill are endemic to the Atlantic forest. Endemic to the Nicobar Islands of India are the Nicobar sparrowhawk, Andaman cuckoo-dove, white-headed starling and Nicobar Megapode.

From the world’s smallest bird to the largest, from the fastest in air to the fastest in water, they are all fascinating and worthy of our attention.

Wild Birds

February 9, 2009 by  
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Wild birds are found throughout the world. They vary in shapes and sizes from tiny finches to the majestic condors of America.

Each species of wild bird is adapted to thrive in its own evironment. For example, hummingbirds are adapted to feed on nectar from tubular flowers, while eagles are adapted to prey on animals using their strong talons. Ducks are adapted to swimming and vultures are adapted for flight by using thermals.

Wild birds also differ in how they nest. Weaver birds will create intricately woven nests that hang from the branches of trees. Certain birds, such as plovers, will build nests on the ground. Doves will often build very messy nests. Wild birds need to protect their nests and themselves from predators. They will do this by swooping down upon predators whilst issuing alarm calls to other birds in the area. Wild birds will sometimes form mob attacks on predators.

When it comes to breeding season it is important for male birds to establish and maintain their territory. This is done by means of song. Males will also attack intruders into their territory. Wild birds have many strange and wonderful mating displays. Male birds of paradise will perform an intricate dance to attract females. They will sway and bend or stand upright, and certain species will even hang upside down.

It is likely that the wild birds you will see will be those in your garden. To attract more wild birds to your backyard, you may want to provide a variety of feeders and types of food, some shelter and a bird bath.

In increasing number of people are joining the ranks of enthusiastic birders and taking pleasure in viewing wild birds. Perhaps you too would enjoy this popular activity.

Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae)

February 9, 2009 by  
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Known for being the smallest of all birds, the Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) weighs only about 1.8 grams and is about 5 cm (2 inches) in length. The male of the species is smaller than the female and it is only found on Isle of Pines and in Cuba. Unfortunately this pretty little bird is classified as Threatened due to diminishing numbers in more recent years. The decrease in Bee Hummingbird populations have been brought about mainly by loss of habitat due to crop farming, timber felling and livestock farming. These forms of human encroachment have negatively impacted on the subtropical and tropical forests and swamplands that sustain the Bee Hummingbird, causing the bird to be confined to limited suitable habitats.

The male Bee Hummingbird has spectacular coloring. His entire head and throat are an iridescent red-pink and he has elongated lateral plumes. The top of his body is bluish in color while his underparts are a grayish white. These colors only become evident during breeding season and are shed shortly afterward. Non-breeding males have blue spots on their wingtips and black tail tips which helps to differentiate them from the females which have white spots on their tail feathers. The female is less spectacularly colored, having only a blue-green back and grayish underbelly and generally looking somewhat disheveled.

Despite its diminutive size, the Bee Hummingbird is an amazing creature. In flight it beats its wings as many as 80 times per a second. What’s more, when it is involved in a courtship display a male hummingbirds wings may beat as many as 200 times per a second! In order to pump blood around its tiny little body, the Bee Hummingbird’s heart rate is spectacularly fast. In fact, it is the second fastest of all animals. It has less feathers than all other birds, as well as the highest body temperature of all birds, eating up to half its body mass in one day. It also drinks plenty of water – consuming roughly eight times its body mass on a daily basis. The Bee Hummingbird eats mainly nectar and insects, nesting in woodlands, shrubbery and gardens.

2008 Hummer/Bird Celebration

July 21, 2008 by  
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Every year hundreds of people gather together to celebrate the amazing migration of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. This year will be no different and fans are getting ready to enjoy the 20th Anniversary Hummer/Bird Celebration which will take place from September 11-14.

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