I got a hummingbird feeder for Christmas!
It was not something I had ever expected to want for Christmas but in mid-November a tiny hummingbird flew up to my window to examine the orchid on my kitchen table. I was astonished! How could a tiny, nectar-sucking bird live in Canada in the winter?
Then I went for a walk in the garden in December.
I ran to my friend and exclaimed that there were Primroses in full bloom in the garden! She smiled and matter-of-factly stated that primroses are a “winter flower”. “Where I come from, there is no such thing!” I laughed and skipped away to see what other colours were bursting in the garden.
So….I guess there is nectar for hummingbirds to find here in the winter.
I hung my feeder and waited……
No humming birds.
I waited a week and had given up hope until January 2nd.
Once one found the feeder they came constantly. I have seen three at once fighting over it so I know there are at least that many.
They are the delight of my day and they come at least every 15 minutes or so from dawn to dusk. On sunny days they are more active and we watch them dive and shoot around the feeder fighting each other to claim their prize.
These amazing little creatures are called Anna’s Hummingbirds and they are the only non- migratory hummingbird. They can survive cold temperatures by entering a state of “topor” where they drop their body temperature from 40C to 9C. They can slow their breathing from 245 breaths per minute to 6 and slow their metabolism by 300 percent. Hummingbirds can gain 16 percent of their body weight during the day and then burn it all off at night. It seems like a precarious existence but the hummingbirds around here seem to do quite well despite the challenges their tiny bodies face on an hourly basis.
The other morning during breakfast Paul and I witnessed the courting and mating practices of the Anna’s Hummingbird which was a spectacular feat of acrobatics. Firstly, the hummingbirds chased each other around at blinding speeds. At times they were just a blur in our vision. Then they slowed their pace and flew very close to each other. One above the other, they seemed to dance. Always keeping the same distance while one or the other flew backwards, then forwards to keep the formation. Then suddenly the male who was higher up swooped down and the two grabbed each other’s feet. Then they flew, while spinning together in the air.
It was spell binding to watch and we were mesmerized realizing we had just witnessed something that very few humans would ever see.
It always amazes me how complex this world is. How even the tiniest animals are so intricate and unique.
What a delight to be a part of it all!