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The Hummingbirds Are Coming!

April 01, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 136

These tiny hummingbirds are making their trek back north after wintering in Southern Mexico to Panama. By February, most birds will have reached the Yucatan peninsula. Where they begin to feast on insects in order to gain weight to prepare them for their non-stop flight the United States, many crossing the Gulf Of Mexico. Then they will continue on to different parts of the U.S. and Canada. On their non-stop flight to the U.S. they will cover up to 500 miles. This will take them approximately 18-22 hours. While fattening up for their journey, Ruby-throats will double their body weight from 3 grams to over 6 grams. And by the time the hummers have reached the United States they will have lost a lot of weight, and only weigh around 2.5 grams. Once in the U.S., they will begin to refuel for their long migration northward. The hummingbirds will continue on with their migration process, averaging about 20 miles per day.

Hummingbirds do not migrate in flocks, they migrate alone. Hummingbirds don't all migrate at once. The male Ruby-throats set out first, afterwards the females follow about 10 days later. The whole hummingbird migration process spans over a period of around 3 months. Typically the northbound migration is concluded by mid-may. Migration typically follows the early blooms of flowers that hummers feed upon. If the earliest males arrive in Canada before flowers have started blooming, they feast on sapsucker wells of sugar. And eat the insects caught in the sap.

What makes the migration process so fascinating is that newly hatched hummingbirds will have no past experience in migrating. But by some inner instinct, that will urge them gain weight and to fly in a particular direction for a certain amount of miles, before they stop and find a good place to winter. Banding studies show that each year the hummers tend to return to the same place from where they were hatched, and often revisit the same hummingbird feeders. They are thought to retrace their route yearly for as long as they live.

Many people are concerned that if they don't take their hummingbird feeders down in late summer or early fall, the hummingbirds will not migrate and will get stranded by winter. In actuality hummers start to prepare to migrate long before their food source becomes scarce. More often than not, food is in abundance when they start preparing for their trek. The birds visiting your hummingbird feeders in the fall, are actually birds that are migrating. Their instinct to migrate is triggered by the shortening length of sunlight as fall starts to approach, not the scarcity of food. By taking your hummingbird feeder down they will feed somewhere else, and may not return to your garden next year. It is recommended to keep your hummingbird feeders out until freezing.

Some birds start preparing for the migration process in mid-July. But most of them leave in late August and early September. When the bird has put on enough weight, it will then migrate. On their journey south, hummingbirds will follow the same migration process as they did on the way north. But there is evidence that there are less Ruby-throats that cross the Gulf of Mexico in autumn than in the spring. Many follow the Texas coast back to Mexico instead. It is thought that it may be because of hurricane season, and the genes of many birds that would have flown over the water, were lost during the storms at sea.

Migration in animals are fascinating, and is mind boggling as to the instinct triggers these great journeys. While we enjoy these tiny hummingbirds in our gardens each year, it is amazing to think of the laborious journey they undertake each year before they even reach our yard.

Hi, my name is Cassidy Frost. I am an avid runner, mountain climber, world traveler, and an on-line store owner. At http://www.TheTinklingWindChime.Com we enjoy helping you turn your garden into your own personal Eden. We sell a variety of birdbaths, bird feeders, wind chimes, and a wide selection of garden decor. Join us today, and make your yard a fun place to be!

Source: EzineArticles
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