Do Hummingbirds Hum? Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds

Do Hummingbirds Hum? Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds

Do Hummingbirds Hum? Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds

Do Hummingbirds Hum? Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds

Synopsis

Hummingbirds may be the smallest birds in the world, but they have the biggest appetites. Their wings flutter on average fifty to eighty times each second as they visit hundreds of flowers over the course of a day to sip the sweet nectar that sustains them. Their hearts beat nearly twelve hundred times a minute and their rapid breathing allows these amazing birds to sustain their unique manner of flight. They can hover in the air for prolonged periods, fly backwards using forceful wings that swivel at the shoulder, and dive at nearly two hundred miles per hour. Native only to the Americas, some hummingbirds have been known to migrate from Mexico to Alaska in the course of a season. Watching a hummingbird at a backyard feeder, we only see its glittering iridescent plumage and its long, narrow beak; its rapidly moving wings are a blur to our eyes.

These tiny, colorful birds have long fascinated birders, amateur naturalists, and gardeners. But, do they really hum?

In Do Hummingbirds Hum? George C. West, who has studied and banded over 13,500 hummingbirds in Arizona, and Carol A. Butler provide an overview of hummingbird biology for the general reader, and more detailed discussions of their morphology and behavior for those who want to fly beyond the basics. Enriched with beautiful and rare photography, including a section in vivid color, this engaging question and answer guide offers readers a wide range of information about these glorious pollinators as well as tips for attracting, photographing, and observing hummingbirds in the wild or in captivity.

Excerpt

Of all animated beings [hummingbirds are] the most elegant in
form and brilliant in color. the stones and metals polished by art
are not comparable to this gem of nature. She has placed it in the
order of birds, but among the tiniest of the race; … she has loaded
it with all the gifts of which she has only given other birds a share.

—Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte du Buffon,
French naturalist and artist (1707–1788)

In the 1700s when an interest in nature often meant killing your subject, hummingbirds were skinned, stuffed, and studied. a variety of drawings and paintings based on their stuffed skins attempted to catalogue their fabulous variety, and their skins were made into amulets, articles of clothing, artificial flowers, and other ornaments so that people could possess their beauty. Today, the interest on the part of birders and amateur naturalists in hummingbirds seems to rival or even outstrip the interest in butterflies, perhaps because like butterflies they are both beautiful and accessible.

This book, the fourth on important pollinators, continues in the style of the comprehensive Do Butterflies Bite? It provides an overview of hummingbird biology for the general reader, and more detailed discussions of hummingbird morphology and behavior for the reader who wants to go beyond the basics. We also have included a wide range of information for people interested in attracting, photographing, and observing hummingbirds in the wild or in captivity, as well as details about banding and a . . .

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