They finally left this past week: Our resident hummingbirds, which have graced our sugar-water feeders for the past several months. We worried that they may have stayed too long in Virginia and perhaps our feeders were tempting the tiny creatures to overstay their visit. Not to worry. Just before the first frost, our hummers headed south. I wish them Godspeed.
Here are some hummingbird facts:
Hummingbirds live in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands. They live in habitats that contain abundant insects, plants with nectar, water and safe places for building nests. These habitats in the Western Hemisphere include suburban backyards, gardens, desert scrublands, canyons, various forests, meadows, grasslands, marshes and tropical jungles.
Hummingbirds migrate north to the southern United States in the spring and go as far as Alaska by May. They migrate south in the fall to Mexico and Central America.
In milder climates, people can begin to feed hummingbirds in the early spring. It is good to begin offering food to birds as soon as they arrive in a particular region so that the birds have a reliable source of nectar upon arrival. People in cooler climates can begin feeding hummingbirds later in the spring. Hummingbirds begin returning to northern areas in May and June, which makes those months ideal for setting out feeders.
On average, the hummingbird flaps its wings up to 80 times per second. This rapid movement creates a slightly humming sound, which is the reason it is called a hummingbird. There are approximately 300 species of hummingbirds, and 12 of these species spend their summers in North America. The average lifespan for a hummingbird is only about three to four years. While most hummingbirds die in their first year, some have been known to survive for up to ten years or more
It is truly amazing that the small birds that lived in our yard this summer will fly over 2,000 miles to Mexico in the next month. I hope they enjoy their winter and I hope they’ll be back in May.