In total I spied about 6-7 males and one lone female and it became clear that these colourful males were indeed competing for the attention of that aloof little gal. With the playful chatter of young school children at recess, the feathered aviators cruised in and out of our peripheral hovering deftly in mid air to lick the sweet liquid contained in the hanging feeders. It made we wonder about the metabolism of these tiny creatures and how this would affect their life span. It reminded me of how the increased pace in today's society has caused shorter life spans in humans through additional stress and disease. It was my hope to see at least one of these frenetic little guys sit for a moment in quiet contemplation. I wondered, could travelling at such constant high speeds and with such determination be a really good thing, or was it a detriment for any species...? These tiny birds moved with such conviction, the only aim to replenish their rapidly burning calories with sustenance so they could continue on their quest to win the prize...
And then it happened...for one brief moment, this ruby-throated flyer stopped to rest. I imagined the feeling of elation after running a marathon or swimming in a race - that moment when we catch our breath and discharge that pent up energy after physical exertion. I noticed the rapid pulsating of his little chest slow down as he quietly folded his wings and just sat...
Now I was finally able to admire the beauty in his colouring, that gorgeous ruby coloured throat and iridescent green forehead enhanced by the rays of the sun suddenly peaking through the cloudy skies as if on cue. It seemed such a paradox, this creature, which normally travels at immense speed for his size, wings aflutter should be so still, if only for a moment. I can't imagine what would be going through this young feathered lad's brain as he took that well-needed rest perched atop the wrought iron gate, but I think it likely related to how he would best stand out amongst the many others vying for the attention of little miss hummingbird-ette! And as briefly as he sat in quiet contemplation, he clearly had places to go and almost instantly launched himself back into the sky.
I felt honoured for the chance to witness these busy aviators in their realm - doing exactly what they were created to do, unruffled by giant human forms invading their space - simply being, and I promised myself to be conscious of taking more time to just be, and less time having to be.
Here are some interesting hummingbird facts:
- Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world.
- A hummingbird's brain is 4.2% of its body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom.
- Hummingbirds are very smart and they can remember every flower they have been to, and how long it will take a flower to refill.
- Hummingbirds do not drink though their beaks like a straw. They lap up nectar with their tongues.
- A hummingbird's heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute and about 250 times per minute at rest.
- A hummingbird's heart is 2.5% of the total body weight.
- A hummingbird will take about 250 breaths per minute while at rest.
- A hummingbird's metabolism is roughly 100 times that of an elephant.
- The hummingbird's body temperature is around 107 degrees Fahrenheit
- A hummingbird can weigh anywhere between 2 and 20 grams - a penny weighs 2.5 grams
- 30% of a hummingbird's weight consists of flight muscles - Humans pectoral muscles are about 5% of body weight
- Hummingbirds have an average life span of about 5 years - most die in the first year of life, but can live for more than 10 years.
- A hummingbird wings will beat about 70 times per second and will beat up to 200 times per second when diving.
- Hummingbirds need to eat on average 7 times per hour for about 30-60 seconds and can eat anywhere from half (1/2) to eight (8) times its body weight a day.
- A hummingbird will visit an average of 1,000 flowers per day for nectar.
- Hummingbirds are all part of the Trochilidae family of birds - Trochilidae is from the Greek trochilos, meaning small bird.
- A hummingbirds favorite color is red.
- Hummingbirds pollinate flowers by rubbing their forehead and face in each flower as they get the nectar.
- Hummingbirds get their name from the humming sound produced by their wings when flying.
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