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Flying Jewels

When early Spanish explorers first encountered hummingbirds in the New World, they called them flying jewels. But the hummingbird is more than just beautiful. Its physical capabilities put the toughest human being to shame.

Unlike other birds, a hummingbird can rotate its wings in a circle. It can also hover in one spot; fly up, down, sideways, and even upside down (for short distances); and it is the only bird that can fly backward.

The ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummingbird species east of Mississippi migrates at least 2,000 miles from its breeding grounds to its wintering grounds. On the way, it crosses the Gulf of Mexico, that’s 500 miles without rest. Not bad for a bird that weighs just an eighth of an ounce and is barely three inches long.

This is usually the only species of hummingbird I see at my deck feeder. I always look forward to seeing these tiny birds. I change the nectar in the feeder daily, especially with the hot temperatures. These birds are very entertaining to watch. How many birds do you see in my photo? If you guessed two, you are correct.

Photo ©CarolDM2018

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Written by Carol DM

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  1. Awe so cute Carol. I didn’t know you had only one kind. The ruby red throats are so similar to our Anna’s hummers. They live here all year. For our ones that stop in on there way to Mexico we have Allens, Black chined, Costa’s, and Rufous. I have often wanted to view images through a hummers eyes, if only for a moment. I wonder what it would be like to see in all those colors we cannot see.

    • I know that one! Yes, Alex, hummingbirds can see into the near UV spectrum whereas insects such as butterflies see in a different range of UV. Somehow hummingbirds know that insects cannot see red, so these birds might fly past the blue flowers which the butterflies see easily, and stop at the red flowers which butterflies cannot see. Amazing, huh?

  2. Carol, after seeing a nest with tiny hummingbirds in a lemon tree at my best friend’s mom’s place, this week I saw a very young hummingbird on the orange flowers of an aloe plant in my own back yard. Wow! Hummingbird heaven.


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