Did you hear that small, quick hum? Hummers move really fast. Look quick or you might miss it. These busy, aggressive birds dart quickly first in one direction and then in another. They chase each other from feeder to feeder, and guard their chosen territory ferociously from perceived intruders.

Most migrant hummingbirds arrive in March to April and leave in September through October. Their arrival announces spring is close behind and their departure precedes fall. Many backyard bird enthusiasts covet their presence and will compete to see who can attract the most hummingbirds by hanging numerous bottles of the sweet nectar that the birds feed on during the summer months.

There are many species of hummingbirds, and some are quite rare. The different colorful throat patches of the males are used for identification of the various kinds of hummingbirds. For example, these patches may be red, orange, purple, blue, or green. For the most part, juveniles and females may look similar, so other identifying features need to be considered.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is the most commonly-seen hummingbird in Texas according to a study done by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The black-chinned hummingbird will also nest in Texas before returning to Mexico. The Rufous hummingbird will breed in Canada and pass through Texas on its way to Mexico, and a few will overwinter along the Gulf Coast. Big Bend National Park in West Texas and Padre Island National Seashore offer year-round hummingbird sightings of resident blue-throated and broad-billed hummingbirds.

Hummingbird nests are a work of art in that the creative females mold them into tiny cuplike shapes. These nests are very difficult to spot because they are so very small, and are from 10 to 90 feet high up in a tree or a shrub. If you look for the nest, it may look like a bump or a knot on the tree. They are soft and spongy and made of twigs, plant fibers, pieces of leaves and held together with spider silk, so that they can stretch. The female lays two eggs which are the size of navy beans, and she incubates them for 15 to 18 days. The fledglings leave the nest in 18-28 days after hatching.

These tiny treasures of the sky do face conservation threats due to various sources. Be sure to clean bird feeders regularly because they can harbor toxic mold that can kill these tiny creatures. Leaky feeders can attract bees and wasps that will attack birds. Avoid putting red dye in your bird feeders as it is really not necessary to attract the birds and may prove harmful to them. Placement of bird feeders near windows can cause collisions which can result in fatal injuries or damage to the bird’s bill. Also, habitat loss can cause a sharp decline in bird population. Support habitat conservation with an annual donation. Invasive plants used for ornamental decoration can crowd out nectar producing plants that these birds need to survive. A sudden cold snap can kill quickly because these birds’ tiny bodies cannot retain heat easily. Show your love and support for these beautiful jewels of the air by sporting a StickerTalk sticker of “I Love Hummingbirds” on your car.





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