Two of my favorite creatures in the real and mythical worlds are hummingbirds and unicorns. I’ll let you decide which belongs to which realm. Recently the Old Farmers Almanac had an extensive article about hummingbirds. You may not have the same interest I do about these remarkable wee aves. I will not take it personally if you prefer to skip this week’s post.
Nonetheless, I could not resist sharing. Leaving unicorns for another day.
“WHAT IS A HUMMINGBIRD’S SIZE?
These diminutive birds weigh only about 4 grams—or .141 ounce! That’s tiny! For comparison, a U.S. penny weighs 2.5 grams. The egg of a hummingbird weighs
just 0.4 gram to 2.4 grams. A newly hatched bird is just 0.62 gram. However, when it’s time to migrate, hummers pack on the grams for the long trip—sometimes doubling their weight.
They are among the smallest birds, too, with most species measuring 3 to 5 inches long. The smallest bird, the bee hummingbird, is only 2 inches long—and weighs less than 2 grams.
HOW FAST DO HUMMINGBIRDS BEAT THEIR WINGS?
Hummingbirds, with their iridescent colors and fairly short wings, beat their wings as fast as 80 times per second! They do NOT flap their wings—they rotate them in a figure 8, which makes it even more remarkable! In fact, their name comes from the fact that they move their wings so fast that they make a humming noise. Hummingbirds can hover, stop instantly, and fly in different directions (even upside down) with exquisite control.
WHERE DO HUMMINGBIRDS LIVE?
Hummingbirds evolved in the equatorial tropics. In the spring, 21 species fly thousands of miles northward from Mexico, Costa Rica, and other southern places to visit the United States and Canada. In the fall, they return to their southern homes.
In North America, the greatest number and variety of hummingbirds can be found in western areas of the United States and as far north as Alaska. Only the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is found east of the Mississippi. The birds also visit southern Canada, especially British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia.
HOW FAR DO HUMMINGBIRDS MIGRATE?
Many of these birds make round-trip migration flights of more than 1,600 kilometers (995 miles)! Although hummingbirds usually weigh less than an ounce, these tiny birds have a lot of energy. When the wind blows in the direction in which they are flying, they can travel up to 50 mph.
Some fly nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico in spring and autumn. Cornell University scientists report that in preparation for such flights, they double their body weight with nectar and insects. They burn all additional weight when crossing the Gulf of Mexico. They consume 10 times per gram of muscle tissue than the most elite among human athletes, marathoners and cross-country skiers
When hummingbirds are arriving in the north, they are sometimes confronted with unusually cold weather and will enter into a hypothermic torpor to survive.
HOW FAST IS A HUMMINGBIRD’S HEART RATE?Hummingbirds have a very high metabolic rate, with heart rate of 1,260 beats per minute and breaths of 250 times per minute. The long flights and wing-beating can make a hummingbird weary. As often as every 15 minutes, they look for a place to rest on trees and shrubs with small leaves. Particular plants include birch trees, butterfly bushes, and honey locusts. Don’t worry if you do not have these plants in your yard—your hummingbird might also rest on your feeder’s hanger.
WHAT DO HUMMINGBIRDS EAT?Hummingbirds live on flower nectar and insects, supplemented by food from hummingbird feeders.
Hummingbird Feeder Recipe
The most common feeder recipe is a mixture of 1 part (cup) sugar to 4 parts (cups) water heated enough to dissolve the sugar and allow to cool before putting into feeders. Many hummingbirds pay little attention to commercial preparations of color-tinted water even though they have excellent color vision. Hummingbirds have remarkable spatial memories and flutter before feeders before they are even hung in the spring.
Are hummingbirds attracted to the color red?
The hummingbird is a prolific pollinator of flowers. Research shows that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds deposit 10 times as much pollen as bumblebees. So, to attract hummingbirds to your garden, make sure to include lots of plants known to attract hummingbirds. What is a hummingbird’s favorite flower? Try bee balm and foxglove, just to name two.
WHAT’S A HUMMINGBIRD’S LIFE SPAN?The life expectancy of a hummingbird is from 3 to 6 years. The oldest surviving hummingbird was 9 years old. Females outlive males by several years, probably due to the males’ high energy costs of defending territories and the long spring and fall migrations.”
Comments are welcomed.
This is it, friends. It’s the astronomical last day of summer. Tomorrow, Sept. 22, at 9:30a.m. Autumn begins. Many feel like Labor Day is the end of summer. According to the meteorology perspective, they might not be far off. One definition of seasons, which is based on temperature cycles and the Gregorian calendar, the first day of fall is September 1. However, the accepted date is the astronomical date when there is equal hours of daylight and dark. Speaking of daylight, did you know that the color change in leaves is not due to temperatures? It is actually due to the amount of daylight and photosynthesis. Check out It's Not About the Frost.
Autumn and Spring are my favorite seasons. Winter and Summer not so much. A while back I mixed up some metaphors and wrote a little ditty about what I love about Fall. Thank you Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Maria Von Trapp.
Autumn, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
County fairs and fresh produce markets,
Apples and pumpkins and hot roasted chestnuts,
Cider and doughnuts and cool moonlit evenings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Leaves of bright colors at peak for the viewing,
The first sign of wood smoke through the air swirling,
Hay rides and scarecrows and fun family gatherings,
These are some more of my favorite things.
There you have it - poetic license run amuck. Since poetry is not my forte, it would have gotten even muckier had I tried to wax poetic about how much I enjoy the swooshing and crunching sounds from walking on leaf covered paths. Or if I tried to poeticize (it’s a real word) the wonderful aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice wafting through the air from baked goods and hot mulled drinks.
There is one more thing. With all that Fall goodness, we must be mindful not to speak of what is skulking around some corner. That which is not to be spoken is in the shadows glowering and smirking, rubbing it’s icy hands together revving up to lunge at us with all its stormy bluster. Remember not to speak of it or think about it. Just continue to enjoy the bounties of Autumn.
Comments are welcomed.
Let’s Use The Good Dishes
Are you, like me, someone who tends to save the good dishes, save a favorite sweater, piece of jewelry, a ‘lucky’ jersey or baseball glove, etc. for a special occasion? When you get to a certain age, you suddenly realize that maybe there won’t be as many days ahead to use or wear those things. Every day that we wake up already makes the day special. So, why not affirm each day as special and do something accordingly. We could get out the good dishes and make a fine dinner with candles and favorite music. Wearing that silk blouse on an ordinary day can lift the spirits. Why let it just hang in the closet? Why not wear the lucky jersey on a non game day? Maybe it will bring luck to your day.
Another thing we save that we may not think much about is our words. “Words can be used as gifts and words can be used as weapons. Just like the good dishes rarely used, we often save our best words. Why not jump in today and tell those people in your life what you love and admire about them, while you still can, and while they are still around to hear your words.
We all need encouraging words from time to time. Let’s be generous and send out our word gifts to those we love and admire. The great thing about word gifts is that we never run out. We can afford to be generous.”
We also want to be generous with our word gifts to those with whom we come in contact throughout the day – a sales clerk, a checkout person, a wait person, the postal worker, a health care person. The list goes on. Everyone needs a kind word now and then.
“When you have things you want to do, have fun doing, including learning something . . . jump right in and do it. We have restrictions due to Covid but working with that understanding, don’t just wait to do some of the things you can do and want to do. You too are unique in all the world. Use your gifts. Have fun. Contribute to making the lives of others joyful and meaningful. Create wonderful memories.
“The joy of living is knowing how precious and tenuous it really is to be part of the full human experience. And what an amazing gift we have been given to fully participate in a plethora of capacities. Let’s do what we can do, while we are able.”
Alright. The waiting is over. I’m going through my apartment, taking note of what I’ve save for a ‘special occasion.’ Now I will begin unsaving all those things I have been saving and don’t even know what some have been saved for. I invite you to join me in using those ‘good dishes.’ Don’t forget to have fun as you go.
“…” Trudy Boyle in a ToDo Institute newsletter
No Laboring Today
The fishing expedition is over. Lunch is done. How apropos to begin again on Labor Day. There’s something a little oxymoronish about Labor Day being a day of no labor. Over the centuries this day of no labor includes some fun facts.
Labor Day was said to have first been celebrated in Toronto, Canada in 1872. It spread to the U.S. and was first celebrated in New York City in 1882. It became an national holiday in Canada in 1894 and in the U. S. in 1892.
Over the decades Labor Day has marked the end of summer and day before the start of school.
Football season has started around the Labor Day weekend.
This next one is a real thing. Honest. Labor Day is declared the end of hot dog season by the National Council of Hot Dogs and Sausages. According to this council hot dog season begins Memorial Day and ends Labor Day. So, are people eating contraband hot dogs the remaining months of the year? BTW, Joey Chestnut, did you make the deadline?
Memo to fashionistas: White is no longer taboo after labor Day. It is now all colors any time, all the time.
A final yummy fact is that on Labor Day in 1955 the first waffle house opened it’s doors to the public in Avondale Estates, Georgia.
The day after Labor Day has been a new beginning in many areas of life. However, like everything else over the past 6 months, the day after will not be quite the same.
Psychologist and author, Angela Duckworth explains how research shows that human beings are built for fresh starts. We are sensitive to cues that prompt us to change our routines. And we capitalize on them by setting new goals, disrupting bad habits, and with optimism and energy, moving forward.
Her advice in this strange and challenging time is to repeat rituals, even when they aren’t strictly necessary. The idea is to do what it takes to maintain a semblance of normalcy the best we can. Okay, now let’s have some waffles. Or, if you prefer, a black market hot dog.