"My Hummers Are Back!"
Years ago, my mother would often call me in early May and announce, “My hummers are back!” Notice Mom didn’t say, “The hummingbirds are back.” She said, “My hummers are back.” Mom loved her hummers and always hung her hummingbird feeder in her back yard at the end of April. Then she waited in joyful anticipation to spot the first returnee—usually around Mother’s Day.
This past week, the June/July issue of Birds & Blooms arrived. It features hummingbirds. So I took that as a sign to devote today’s blog to hummingbirds. Let’s begin with a few facts. There are over 300 species of hummingbirds. Some are teeny: .08 of an ounce. Others are “big”: .7 of an ounce. Hummingbirds beat their wings 80 times per second. Amazingly, they can fly left, right, up, down, forward, backward, and even upside down! This maneuverability requires a strong heart. A hummingbird’s heart is 20% of its weight and it beats 1,260 times per minute. Compare that to our human heart. A person weighing 175 pounds has a heart that is 0.3% of their body mass and it beats 72 times per minute.
Hummingbirds need a lot of nourishment to stay active and alive. They typically eat nectar, tree sap, insects, and pollen. Even their long tongues are fast. They can lick 13 times per second. Hummers need to eat eight to ten times their weight each day! If you required that much food, how many pounds of food would you have to eat in a day?!
Hummingbirds are found only in the Western hemisphere, from southeastern Alaska to the tropics. Interestingly, they cannot walk or hop. Their feet are used only for perching. If they are perched on a twig and want to move over a bit, they can’t scoot over. They have to fly to move over.
The gestation period for hummingbirds is 13-22 days, depending on the species. The female lays 1-3 eggs in a nest the size of a thimble or shot glass. The nest is usually made from saliva and spider webs. The female is totally responsible for raising the young. I don’t know what the males do with all their free time! The young birds fly in 18-30 days. Hummingbirds are very territorial and have been seen chasing even large hawks from their territory.
Decades ago, the major threat to hummingbirds was the human species who killed them for their incredibly beautiful feathers. Today the greatest threat is still humans who are destroying their habitat at an alarming rate. But there is hope. So many people love hummingbirds, that many of them hang feeders and plant flowers in their yard to attract and support this amazing little bird.
I have two videos for you today. This first one (a little over 2 minutes in length) is called “The Hummingbird Whisperer” and it tells of a researcher and photographer’s love for hummingbirds. I chose this one because I feel to appreciate hummingbirds, we must see them in motion. I also appreciate the young woman’s enthusiasm for hummers!
The second video is Peter Mayer’s beautiful “Everything Is Holy Now.” I have used it before, I know, but it seems so appropriate for this topic. At the end, he compares a little chirping bird to a scripture verse!
Did anything touch you or surprise you in this reflection?
Have you had any experiences with hummingbirds that you would like to share with us?
Is there anything else in creation that you think of as one of Mother Nature’s jewels? We’d love to hear from you!
Wow! Just amazing!
Several years ago I drove to my brother-in-law’s house to drop something off (I have completely forgotten what it was). He wasn’t home. While waiting for him on his small porch (just two steps), I leaned back and dozed off until I was awakened by a buzz. There, to my right, was an orange iris and a hummingbird on the verge of feasting! I was looking at a miracle! The song is right: “Everything is holy now.”
Sr Melannie and everyone, good morning!
This time I watched the videos! The “hummingbird whisperer” won me over instantly with her enthusiasm (I appreciated the close-up of the birds’ necks seen around 1:00 to 1:05 of the video), and Peter Mayer’s song, new to me, charmed me ineluctably. I love the contrast between the vision of the world as “second-rate hand-me-down” and the vision in which everything that is is holy.
Sun’s rising over suburban Boston as I write, and the birds whose names I don’t know are making pleasant noises.
Creation’s jewels? Well, I’m usually not an insect guy, but there’s this bright green flying thing, a neon-green speck with the tiniest wings, that I often find in summertime, on the windows of MBTA buses. I have no idea what it’s called (no larger than 4- or 5-point type), but its green mimics the fresh new green of April leaves just springing forth; it’s a colour that makes you say, at least silently, “Wow!” This wee creature is truly one of creation’s random and strange felicities.
Oh, yes, my late Aunt Ann loved hummingbirds. She had a frequent visitor to her feeder whom she called Nervous Nellie.
One word…..animals! The variety, color, shape, & size. I have an affinity for birds, dogs, cats, & cows. When I spend any time in the presence of animals, I see God’s handiwork in a special way. They are a way to connect on another level with the miracles we overlook everyday. It is a wonderful use of time to slow down & quietly be in the presence of animals….watching, observing, listening, interacting with these gifts from God.
Everything is holy now! Yes indeed! How could it not be when God lives in every single thing?
I loved the song, which I had not heard before, either………I can only say DON’T WE HAVE AN AWESOME GOD?
My only real interaction with hummingbirds was during a vacation in northern Georgia a few years ago. We were staying in a remote mountain cabin with a big back porch which had multiple hummingbird feeders hanging from the eves. I remember sitting in a porch swing for hours and just watching these marvelous little birds. I came home, planted flowers and hung out my feeders. Sadly, no hummingbirds came.
However, my husband and I have substituted butterflies for hummingbirds and we spend hours observing their life cycle. Just plant milkweed and Monarchs will come. As the song says, “Everything is Holy now.”
I am a bird feeder…but this year I helped wrens build a nest in a decorative bird house that my autistic grandson painted for me a few years ago. I have it on a table on my back deck and the wrens started to fill it with twigs … some times the twigs were too big to fit in so they left them out and I would break them up and they would come back to put them inside. I think that she is sitting on her nest now…the male just makes a lot of noise to keep her safe. I can sit just a few feet away and watch them without bothering them. All birds are God’s work of art!
Happy Memorial Day!
My sis lives south of me and she will let me know when her hummers arrive so that I may hang our feeder for their arrival here and sure enough, there they come. Those busy gems provide hours of enjoyment. I have cataloged their arrival dates so can be ready and waiting for them when I get the word from my sis. My ruby hummers are true miracles.
The Hummingbird Whisper is so whims in her love for these birds! Thanks for sharing Sr Melannie!
That was so interesting. I love them but never actually saw any except in photos..Thanks a bun ch!
That was so interesting. I love them but never actually saw any except in photos..Thanks a bunch!
This is not a duplicate. Sorry.
Peter Mayer’s song is so wonderful and I love to hear it. And I love to see the hummers. I have their feeders up and one close to the house. I take pictures of them and make cards. I feed lots of birds and 3 years ago created a butterfly/bee (most bumbles) so I get to see all of the wonderful things that God has created. Truthfully I am happiest when I can watch and/or listen to them. Thanks for what you do. And thank all the people who are a part of your weekly program.
“The fullness of joy
– Julian of Norwich
Seen Peter Mayer many times live and looking forward to seeing him once again in a few weeks very insightful and spiritual.
Melanie love your book When the Rain Speaks! Been speaking alot in Indiana lately.
For me the tree is One of God’s finest creations.
Love of the hummers continues in the family. Put my feeder up today and within a few hours had my first guest!
Dear Lori, I’m glad to see the family tradition is alive and well! Your Mom and Grandma would be proud of you! A.D. (Readers: Lori is my niece–the daughter of my sister who also loved hummingbirds!)
Thank you for the article about hummingbirds.
My sister-in-law, Judy, passed away in December of 2011. She was and is my Spiritual Buddy and she loved birds. We had many conversations about hummingbirds. In the summer of 2012, I was sitting on the deck relaxing when I felt something on my left cheek. Opened my eyes and there was a green-chested hummingbird looking at me. I wasn’t startled, I know it’s Judy saying ,”Hello”,
Also appreciated all the info on hummingbirds.
Can’t say enough about the song, loved it.
Thank you for sharing.
Many years ago I was walking along a tree covered mountain trail with a bunch of wild flowers in my hand. I stopped to take a longer look at the beautiful surroundings when a hummingbird flew up to the flowers I held to take a sip. For those few seconds I felt honored to have received this awesome gift. Ever since then I feel God’s presence in each humming bird’s visit.
Thanks for reminding me of that precious memory.
Sr. Mary, that is an amazing memory! A miracle of beauty! Thanks for sharing.
We have a second home in Arizona and the hummingbird action there seems non-stop. We have a water feature and for the very first time, I saw a hummingbird take a bath!
Oh, how my heart sings whenever I see a hummer. Last summer a hummingbird landed on my mother’s hand. My family all froze together and watched in awe. It was amazing. When the little bird buzzed away. We all took a breath together. The wonders of our Lord.
I have often seen the moon which appeared to as a gem of God.