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Hummingbird Migration, The Journey South
September 24, 2018
A poor picture of our moon and Saturn,
The tiny dot about an inch (2.5 cm) to the right, and just below the moon, is Saturn.
When Earth and Saturn are closest, they lie approximately 746 million miles (1.2 billion kilometers) apart.
Today Akita has her two week checkup to see how her allergies are doing.
Thing are looking a bit better, but a long way to go.
From summer, to fall.
This year is was like flipping a switch.
Heat and humidity, a wave of thunderstorms, and the temperatures plummet. The first day of Autumn was in 60's (with lots of sun).
Another family of fledged Northern cardinals are visiting, love the cries of fledglings, as they beg to be fed.
I expect at least one more family of cardinals in October, it happens every year around here.
Another wave of Goldfinches have appeared as well.
Another picture of the deer family.
This time a young buck has joined them.
Notice the velvet on the antlers, soon that will get rubbed off in the preparations for Rut.Big Red (Holland Harbor Lighthouse), on an overcast/fogy morning.
We did make one last visit to Lake Michigan last week.
The water was too cold for much more than dipping the toes, but we needed one more day of ambivalence.
Did I mention the Monarchs?
Another day of spectacular butterfly watching, and that was worth it for me.
Pictured at the bottom are two pictures of a couple of monarchs, busy nectaring.
It is so nice to see them all this year, even the that season visitors.
Hummingbird activity is at a fevered pitch, there is however, fewer birds to watch.
Pictured is a weekend visitor at the same Tithonia (Mexican sunflower).
You guessed it, this week's letter is on Hummingbird Migration.
(Hummer enjoying the Red Salvia).
One of the toughest birds I know are
Pound for pound, or should I say ........
One tenth of an ounce for one tenth of an ounce, these birds have no peers.
Hummers are required to do so if they are to survive.
Especially Ruby-throated hummingbirds.
Most of these birds are required to fly 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico to their wintering grounds in Southern Mexico to Panama.
Oh sure, some birds funnel through Texas, and still other birds remain in the deep south.
Speculation is these birds are too young or too old to make the journey.
Anna's hummingbird may migrate some, but mostly they cruise up and down the west coast, mountains and valleys in search of food.
Not all of you realize that hummers, or think of hummingbirds as carnivores.
Nectar and sugar waters helps to fuel the birds in their hunt for insects.
Without insects, nectar wouldn't get the job done.
Protein builds muscle.
Muscle and strength required for these high octane birds.
Two of the main reasons for migration are simply food.
Flowers and insects disappear in cold weather.
Hummers have started their migration already, as the males have left here and females and young are gorging.
It is time for me to pump up the juice in the feeders.
Instead of, what might be a typical formula of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar, I now increase the sugar content.
Now until they have all left, my feeders are juiced to a formula of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar.
Simply put, 3 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar (I don't know what that breaks down to in the metric system).
There is no real formula, flowers come with nectar as high as 50% and higher.
The higher octane helps them to put on stored weight.
The more fat the little birds can put on, the healthier they will be for and during migration.
Migration South is instinctive.
(I like this picture.)
East of the Mississippi, we have one species.
The almost cocky, feathered dynamo will harass other birds, and even chase another hummer from its territory.
Only until migration is in full swing will Ruby tolerate the presence of another.
By the time they reach Louisiana, and Texas, they will feed along side others.
To the point that some yards have scores of feeders that entertain hundreds upon hundreds of hummers at a time.
Before I die, I truly want to make it to one of these hummers festivals held every autumn in certain locations.
What truly makes a hummingbird special?
Not all the unique skills and talents they possess.
Not a tongue that flicks 15 times per second.
Not the ability to fly backwards or hover.
It is a the remarkable, God given gift of migration.
Much like the monarchs, hummingbirds migrate when a body clock tells them to do so.
This is mostly dictated by the length of day.
Cool weather may play a small part in this however the length of day light hours awakens hormones and tells them it is time.
On their own, with out another to lead them, or teach them on how hummers migrate.
Most often it will be this year's babies that are the last to head south.
More experienced birds, now have the advantage of 'been there done that' in their back pocket, so to speak.
No flocks, no lessons,
You're on your own baby.
A fattened and healthy hummer has a better chance of making it.
Starvation is the number one killer of hummingbirds during migration periods.
You can assist all hummers along the way, by offering a food source.
( A fledged Northern Cardinal this past week. You can't see the wings fluttering, or her the cries, but they are happening.)
Soon I will be without hummingbirds, as they are so busy feeding, and looking ten months pregnant (in people terms).
Today (September 24), is the average last day for us to see a hummer, but I'm thinking maybe a bit later this year.
Some years a bit earlier, and on occasion, as later as the second week of October.
It will be a long seven plus months before I see them again.
I only ask, that you take care of my birds as they pass through :-)
Well, it is time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
"The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident".
Charles Lamb (1775-1834) British Essayist
Indeed, the joy is in the giving, not for praise.
Now the bible
"Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention.
If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you.
So when you give to the needy,do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."
Matthew 6: 1-2
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,
We borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb.
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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