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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Monday, January 4, 2016

Can you imagine?

It is fairly cold here (for these parts anyway!) and out my 
window I see them daily.
The tiny hummingbirds.
No heavier than a nickel and no bigger than a mouse...
This is the male with his bright plumage.
This little guy is busy securing his homeland and making sure (I think)
that he has no invaders to capture his precious sugar water stash.
Did you know they use to be native to only parts of the Pacific southwest but have expanded
breeding/feeding territory as far north as Southern BC in the Pacific northwest because of the introduction of imported subtropical plants? 
Many people keep these guys alive all winter by providing them with the basic nectar recipe.
1 part white sugar to 4 parts boiling water, then cooled before feeding.
The white sugar is necessary because it is the closest thing to the real nectar of the
flowers. Substitutions can be dangerous, for example honey. This can cause
serious bacterial infection and death. Brown sugar contains molasses and is too
heavy for the wee things to digest. 
Both ferment much quicker (than white sugar )which again,
causes bacteria to grow in the feeders.
Now watch this...with the turn of his head in certain light...
 Bling with wings!!
This is called refraction of light on the feathers.
It's very scientific and I won't go into all the details but it's quite amazing that this 
is the same bird, only the sun is hitting those magic little feathers in just the right way.
Speaking of little feathers...
These will keep this fraction of a bird warm all winter.
Hummingbirds will go into a state of hibernation at night in order
to conserve their precious energy.
This is called torpor and basically is the method of lowering the body temperature
to match that of the environment.
I tell you...magic! 


4 comments:

Marigold Jam said...


Magical photos too - amazing. Fancy having those little chaps outside your window!

Nancy Kay said...

It seems these little ones rarely sit still for even a few seconds, so I'm amazed that you got these photos. What beautiful feathers!! He is so handsome!!

Acornmoon said...

I am amazed that these tiny birds visit your garden, I always thought them to be tropical. Also, it seems strange that honey should be so harmful, I would have thought that honey was itself antibacterial? They are so beautiful, your camera has captured them so perfectly. x

Lucinda Keller said...

OK, can we talk about how amazing these photos are? You need to start submitting to wildlife magazines!