Sunday, February 3, 2013

Seeking hummingbirds

    Most people probably think of a hummingbird as some kind of huge insect. But it "is" a bird. According to bird hobbyist Melanie Fox and a little research I have done, hummingbirds are feisty little (no, not buggers) aviary beings. Some species have been known to venture to the high American Rockies or even Alaska. In the extreme temperatures actually cause them to go into a state of "torpor" where their heart beat is a mere 60 or 70 beat a minute and they may look like they are not even alive.
     But on a late fall day over a month ago (was it early December?) I scrambled to get some clothes on after Melanie emailed me that her feeder in front of her townhouse had attracted some hummers. So I got down there just as a few even "bigger" bird hobbyists caught the hummers in this little netting they put  over a bird cagelike like device the bird feeder was in, in order to tag then release the birds. They'd had a ruby throated juvenille on hand before I got there. As I arrived they were hold a tiny "rufous" hummingbird in the netting while putting a tiny, tiny aluminum band around its tiny leg. They told me they try the following year to capture the ones with the band on the leg to see where they have been and come back to. The rufous hummingbird is normally a West coast (down to the Baja pennisula next Mexico) bird that migrates south. But sometimes, they go off course.
    The rufous hummingbird had a light gray breast, and is supposed to be brownish with maybe a drop of yellow or red on top. Birds in general are pretty fast. But watch for those house cats! We have an indoor-outdoor cat, which may be a reason we don't see too many birds outside of sparrows and a few mourning doves when the weather was warmer. Cats can be fastER sometimes. But it is interesting to learn something new about birds.

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