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Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds flock to the Commissioner’s back yard. Photo: Eric Hoff

Fascinating Backyard Acrobats

Bill Keltner

All it takes is a hummingbird feeder filled with sugary water hanging from a tree in your back yard to enjoy the entertaining antics of one of God’s most fascinating creatures–the tiny, iridescent, feathered aerial acrobat we know as the hummingbird.

City Commissioner Eric Hoff is one of the admirers of these sensational performers that he regularly sees in his own backyard. He shared some pictures he took last week of the colorful show in his back yard, and shared them with LA FERIA NEWS. “It happens every year as the birds migrate from the chilly north to warmer climes to spend the winter,” he explained. “Anybody can do it,” he said. “You just need a couple of hummingbird feeders, and a supply of the sugary nectar they are attracted to. You can make your own or buy it–it makes no difference whether it is clear or red-colored.”

From his experience, he says one is as good as the other. “You can use the handy store-bought nectar available at grocery store chains and hardware, or you can make your own,” he said, “if you make your own, use a 4 to 1 ration with pure, clear water and cane sugar boiled briefly.”

Then he added: “Nectar plants are available to attract hummingbirds, and we get ours at Stuart Place nursery on Business 83, only 1 mile east of La Feria. The owners are super nice people who have always assisted us in La Feria with our veterans fundraisers.”

A little research about these little guys revealed an outstanding fact about their wing muscles. The wings represent an unusual 25 to 30 percent of the whole body weight. Ordinary birds flap their wings up and down. Not so the hummingbirds. Their unique small wings pivot forward and backward, like oars on a rowboat. Although the movement is not circular, it has the same effect as does the rotor on a helicopter. The wings of a hummingbird do the same thing, enabling it to hover motionless, or rise vertically or downward, or even backwards. No other bird can do that!

Their energy level is incredible. They can fly a remarkable speeds of 53 miles per hour and migratory species can cover tremendous distances and utilize celestial navigation to find their destination home in Mexico and Central America. The ruby-throat hummingbird, which are common in the Valley, can fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico to their winter quarters. The broadtail hummingbird flies from southern Mexico to the American Rockies in its 2000 mile journey each year. These beautiful birds weight less than an ounce and measure a mere three inches (7.5 cm). Are you impressed?

Hummingbird get their name, by the way, from the humming sound their wings make while they are in flight.

Eric Hoff recommends bird watching. Photo: Bill Keltner/LFN

The Commissioner commented that this year he is seeing more migrating hummingbirds than previous years. He said that some say the large population of hummingbirds may be due to dislocations caused by recent Gulf Coast hurricanes–and the hurricane season in the Gulf is not over until November. “I have never seen dozens of birds at a feeder as we’ve had this year. So, get your bird feeders out soon,” he added,” and join the sheer joy of admiring these incredible acrobats and the show they put on just for you as they migrate north or south during the year.

The Commissioner lives on Palm Avenue in La Feria. He says, “We have fed hummingbirds here every year since we moved here almost 5 years ago, and did the same thing in our previous home in San Benito.”

These hummingbirds are indeed striking little creatures, as we found out. They are lively, fearless, and pugnacious little guys that you learn as you watch them compete with their fellow thirsty flyers.

Hoff says that if you aren’t a bird watcher already, these diminutive, beautiful hummingbirds this year are reason enough to become one. Hang your hummingbird feeder in your backyard and join the fun.

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