Monday, September 7, 2009

Fast but Lonely Travelers

Decidedly, fall migration has begun. Hummingbirds are once again gathering at the feeders, fattening for the trip south. Our feeders sometimes have five or six at a time seeking nectar. Even the few flowers left are being methodically visited for a last drink by the birds.

It is amazing that these little birds will practically double their weight at this time in preparation of their long flight south to Mexico and Panama. Their routes require nonstop flight of 20 some hours over the Gulf of Mexico at an average speed of 25 mph. Sustaining that seems incredible. Yet, these little dynamos do and mostly as solitaires. Large flocks of hummers do not occur. Speculation as to the reasons for this lonely migration include the declining populations of insects and flowers that prohibit a large gathering of hummers at one place and time, that large flocks are easier pickings for predators, and the possibility that a single storm could conceivably wipe out an entire hummingbird species.
Photographs by Bill Ravenscroft

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