Monday, August 26, 2013

hummingbird launch

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
pigment, charcoal, glue/ paper

The hummingbirds are fattening up, getting ready for their migration south, across the Gulf of Mexico, to some place south of the U.S.-Mexico border.  We have seen them at our feeder and at our flowers--especially the bee balm--for about three weeks now.  Our birds are juveniles; we know this because they do not have the colorful markings yet of adults, notably the ruby throats that are especially bright and iridescent in the males.  So they are getting ready for their first trip!

Information from banding relates amazing fidelity to migration routes.  Banders have encountered the same bird on the same day a year later.  Moreover, the birds' instructions for migration must be inherited because young hummingbirds will winter where their ancestors have wintered and travel the same routes even though the trip is their first ever.  And they do not migrate as a group, according to David Sibley, that wonderful bird painter and researcher.  So these youngsters do not learn their route from a flying partner.

Our youngsters--there seem to be three of them--can fatten themselves to double their (tiny) weight before they set out for the south.  After they leave, I'll look around to see if I can find a nest.

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