This N That by Nicky De Lange
What’s tiny, flaps its wings up to 80 times per second and travels thousands of miles during migration season?
Answer: the hummingbird, a common sight in our area. Just hang a hummingbird feeder in your yard, fill it with hummingbird nectar and stand back so you don’t get run over by these little speed demons. Not only can they flap their wings as much as 80 times a second, they can also fly backwards as well as hover nearly motionless, their rapidly flapping wings a blur.
I only know these things because I recently received a mail-out from Audubon, the organization that is working very hard to protect these and other endangered bird species. The flier they included was beautiful – it featured four different varieties of these amazing birds, giving their backgrounds as well as their status on the Audubon endangered list.
For example, the Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest breeding bird in North America as well as the smallest long-distance migrant in the world. But they are ranked as climate-threatened, due to pesticide use, loss of native flowers by invasive plants and a restricted migration range.
The Allen’s Hummingbird is also climate-threatened. These beautiful little creatures only breed along a narrow strip of coastal California and southern Oregon. They prefer brushy woods, gardens and meadows. But their restricted range makes them more susceptible to natural disasters, disease and habitat destruction.
The Rufous Hummingbird, one of the most beautiful varieties pictured in the mail-out, breeds as far north as southern Alaska and prefers to winter as far south as southern Mexico. But because the
Rufous needs to find the right conditions in so many different habitats in order to survive, this gorgeous little hummingbird is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, earning it a climate-endangered status on Audubon’s list.
The fourth featured hummingbird, the Costa’s variety, likes to make its home in a desert-type climate. They feed on tiny insects and the nectar they get from native plants (agave and desert honeysuckle).Unfortunately Costa’s populations are at risk due to their habitat being cleared for development in parts of California and Arizona. These little fellows status as listed by Audubon is “losing desert habitat.”
This is just a sampling of the many types of hummingbirds at risk in an increasingly unfriendly environment. It’s a crime not to protect such amazing, beautiful creatures. To learn more about them, including how to help them, Google Audubon birds. You’ll also find lots of wonderful pictures and info about all kind of birds.Check it out for yourself. Then get a t-shirt made that says, “ Hug a Hummingbird!” or whatever you think will raise awareness of our beautiful feathered friends.