Hummingbirds are Sprites of Good Luck

  Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Photo   captured at the critically acclaimed Hummingbird Aviary, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ. A must-visit destination for anyone with a passion for hummingbirds!Photo by Tad Kelly

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Photo
captured at the critically acclaimed Hummingbird Aviary, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ. A must-visit destination for anyone with a passion for hummingbirds!Photo by Tad Kelly

Kimberly J. Epp

Today's article had to begin with the heart-warming story told by Craig Swanson. He observed and filmed a mother hummingbird in the nest with her eggs - and then her two young. People tuned in to his videos daily to watch the progress. Two of his photos are included below. The story is from the year following the discovery of the nest.

🌷"Wow! A hummingbird just slowly flew around the entire outer circumference of my coffee cup while I was standing on my porch. Then it hovered above and looked at me inches away from my face.

I wanted to slowly get my phone to capture the moment that seemed to last forever. I've never experienced such an intimate encounter with these creatures. This one has flown pretty close to me before but never like this.

I want to believe it was one that I saw hatch last year in the nearby tree (seen in photo). They apparently bring blessings of luck, speed and mental agility. As well, The Spirit of the Hummingbird gives powerful protection from bad luck and negativity." (Craig Swanson) 🌷

  Tiny hummingbird nest. The eggs no bigger than coffee beans. Photo by Craig Swanson.

Tiny hummingbird nest. The eggs no bigger than coffee beans. Photo by Craig Swanson.

Hummingbirds are indeed magical little sprites that break records on so many fronts. So its easy to believe they would be considered good luck. There are ways to attract these tiny blessings of luck. Planting native flowers and bright red flowers like Crocosmus in your garden, and putting out feeders with one part dissolved raw sugar and four parts water WITHOUT red food coloring are two ways. Make the nectar yourself instead of buying pre-made.

The red dye in food coloring is harmful and causes their bones to go brittle. Plus its completely unnecessary, as all hummingbird feeders have red on them anyway to attract these tiny birds. Once hummers have found your garden, although it may not happen the first year, there's a good chance they will return the following year - and thereafter. They have an incredible memory, not only for their amazing migration journey, but also for the home they found food from!

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is Saskatchewan's smallest bird, weighing only 2.5 to 4.5 grams. They measure ten centimetres in length. They are so light that they can be held by a spider web. In contrast, the smallest bird in the world is the Bee Hummingbird. From the tip of its bill to the end of its tail is just over 2 inches. It weighs less than a penny. Despite their size, they are tough and will fight off large predators like hawks.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, due to its small size, has difficulty regulating it's body temperature. And this temperature is the highest of any birds. Therefore the tiny bird must feed almost constantly from dusk to dawn. A person with a similar metabolism would need to consume 285 hamburgers per day just to maintain a constant body weight.

  Hummingbird fledglings about ready to leave nest. Photo by Craig Swanson

Hummingbird fledglings about ready to leave nest. Photo by Craig Swanson

Hummingbirds don't sleep in the typical sense, but rather go into states of torpor. During torpor, their heart rate which is normally between 250 to 1000 beats per minute (normal rate to rate during flight) slows to only 50 beats per minute. Torpor occurs during food shortages and when it's cold and can last 8 to 14 hours - which also helps the hummers get through the night.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate in the Spring and fall, and the journey is 1600 kilometres in length all the way to Central America - including a 5 hour non-stop journey over the Gulf of Mexico. With the help of air drafts, their top speed is 96 kilometres per hour. They usually arrive back in Saskatchewan in early to mid June.

Like other pollinators, hummingbird numbers have drastically reduced. So if you can, won't you help a hungry hummer? If you do, good luck is certainly set to come your way! ⚘

**Stay tuned for Friday's article, on what wildlife rehabbers do!
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Epp is an environmental educator and writer and is also the President of the Moose Jaw Nature Society. She can be reached at kepp@shaw.ca.

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