My Morning Alarm Clock
When I lived in the city . . . . we typically had one, maybe two hummingbirds that regularly visited my feeder. Once I moved into a house in the woods; I quickly learned that the hummingbird feeders not only attract many hummingbirds but they also attract other critters (like bears). Three years ago I had a bear encounter that changed where I have placed my hummingbird feeder. Making the long story short; about 2am in the morning the bear destroyed the feeder, fell “threw” my screen window (was half into my house), broke the window frame and woke me up from a dead sleep. Now if I would like to feed the hummingbirds . . . . I need to place the feeder somewhere on the second floor (out of reach of the critters). The most convenient location was outside my bedroom window. (dial-up people should avoid these videos)
My Morning Alarmclock
About 15 minutes before sunrise each morning (which is about 6am right now) the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will begin fighting for their space at the feeder. When you are a birder, it is hard not to stay awake and give your full attention to their busyness! The males are always trying to protect their territory and the ladies just seem to ignore them. But, where are these hummingbirds coming from? Where are they sleeping at night? Do I have a tree full of hummingbirds waiting for first light and the first crack at my feeders (I always fill the feeders at dusk each evening so they are full in the morning)?
More Hummingbird Clips
Just the other morning I had a Barred Owl vocalizing in the pinetree outside my bedroom window about 5:30 in the morning. I woke up from a dead sleep and started wondering if he’s eating the hummingbirds! Once I was 100% awake (not delirious anymore), the reality reminded me that they are tiny and probably hiding under leaves . . . . avoiding from being eaten at night. Sure enough at 6am the morning the hummingbirds were buzzing around and chirping as they always are.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Sitting!
Last evening we had temperatures go into the lower 50F’s and when I woke up this morning . . . . I was worrying about the cold (delirious again, temperatures were perfect). The fact of the matter is that hummingbirds have the ability to withstand frost by reducing its oxygen consumption by 75%. This allows the hummingbird to save up to 27% of its daily energy expenditures by dropping its body temperatures around 20C. No wonder they are soo busy in the morning obtaining quick energy!!
Up Close Video Clip
Recently I visited my friend Marilyn at WBU because I needed to purchased an extra large feeder. Marilyn suggested this feeder if I have to fill my current feeders every other day. I ended up laughing because the little buggers had cleaned out this large feeder in about 12 hours the first day I had it placed. Now they can empty both of my feeders in less than 8 hours (young ones are out and about now). The big feeder holds 860g of sugar-water and my medium size feeder holds 505g of sugar-water. Now here is some math for you to do, if a hummingbird who weighs only 4.5 grams (my averaged weight of hummingbirds that I have captured), then how many hummingbirds do I really have visiting my feeders??
Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Bee Balm!
If my record is seeing 26 individuals at one time . . . . and if they can drink 1365g of sugar-water over 8 hours time, then they must be drinking 11.7 times their body weight?? hmm, is this a realistic number?? To be honest, I have no clue how many times their body weight they can drink but guessing (for a high number) that it could be around 4 times their weight. If a 4.5g hummingbird drinks 1365g of Sugar Water and drinks 4X’s its weight, then I should have 75.8 individuals feeding at my feeder each day. I did a “quick” literature search in the journals and I found in the Wilson Bulletin in 1913 a publication on “Experiments in feeding hummingbirds during seven summers”. Sherman stated, “From these weights one makes the deduction that our Hummingbirds are accustomed to eat of sugar twice their own weight daily”. Hmm, is he talking about just sugar or sugar-water (he doesn’t really come out and say)?? If I estimate that when they eat 2X their body weight with sugar-water . . . . then I am probably seeing around 151.7 individuals visiting my feeders each day (hmm, I don’t think so). But since I dilute the 1 part sugar with 4 parts water . . . . we are really looking at is the hummingbirds are drinking is 20% sugar to 80% water. If they are able to take on twice their body weight in sugar then I should have 30.3 hummingbirds visiting my feeders! WOW, isn’t that some crazy math?? The 30.3 hummingbirds visiting my feeders is a more “realistic number” and very close to my original 26 individuals. I guess I didn’t really think about the diluting with water part of the math (but was able to work my way through it). I tried emailing a fellow bander “Bill” from Hilton Pond earlier this week. He is without a doubt the Ruby-throated Hummingbird expert and I was wondering how accurate my numbers really were. . . . but he never responded back. I guess my 1913 paper will have to do for now!!