When hummingbirds aren't preoccupied with hovering outside your window around flowering plants or a feeder, they lead pretty hectic lives. They eat about six meals per hour, visiting an average of 1,000 flowers per day for nectar or to nibble on the insects found near the blossoms.
To help them suck up the nectar, they roll their bifurcated tongues into a tiny straw. To facilitate their transportation between feeding stations, hummingbirds fly 20-30 miles per hour and dive at speeds as high as 60 miles per hour. The wings blur because they beat their wings about 75 times per second which adds up to more than a quarter of a million fast flaps per hour. The hummingbird's rapid wing action allows it to hover, zip forward and even fly backward.
Hummingbirds have very strong wing muscles that are proportionately larger than those of any other bird species. Hummingbirds are not just strong, but they also have incredible endurance. The little birds are capable of traveling 500 miles at a stretch without stopping to rest--despite being the smallest bird species in the world.
All hummingbirds are native to South America, and in Spanish they are known as joyas voladoras, which means "jewels that fly." Although there are more than 300 species of hummingbirds, only about 10 percent of those venture north of Mexico; almost all of the hummingbirds we see east of the Rocky Mountains are of the ruby-throated variety. They build nests that are only about an inch in diameter, and their eggs are so tiny that three of them will fit on top of a penny. They grow to be 3-inch long adults that weigh in at about an eighth of an ounce.
To put that into perspective, consider that a stack of four or five quarters weighs an ounce, so hummingbirds weigh considerably less than a large coin. They hatch in about 15 days, but the lifespan of a hummingbird is only about 5-8 years, althought some survive for nearly a decade.
During that brief lifetime the heart of a hummingbird beats ferociously. If you were to measure the pulse of one of these creatures during the night, you would find that it runs about 50 beats per minute--which is lower than the typical heart rate of an Olympic athlete. But during the day their little hearts race, pounding away at more than 10 beats per second. To manage that intensity their hearts are much leaner and thinner than ours, and they can metabolize fantastic amounts of oxygen for creatures their size.
If you have a hummingbird feeder, do not make your nectar solution using honey, artificial sweeteners, or food coloring. Honey can incubate a dangerous fungus that makes hummingbirds sick. Since most feeders are made of red glass or plastic, even colorless nectar will appear red to the birds and still attract them to your feeder for easy and entertaining viewing.
Submitted by Norma Walker
Plants that are not organically grown, are grown using chemically derived pesticides & fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are derived from non-processed, non-chemically-altered, naturally occurring substances.
Non-organic plants are most likely germinated from non-organic seeds (seeds that have been harvested from chemically treated & sometimes genetically modified genes).
No pesticides are used on organically grown plants. Insects are controlled by companion planting, by plant rotation and by attracting beneficial insects that eat the bad insects.
When you garden using organic principles, the soil health is most important. If the soil is healthy, filled with microbes, earthworms, humus and ph balanced, you should not have an insect problem. Insects only attack weak & unhealthy plants.
Submitted by C. Rodriguez