Monday, July 6, 2020

A Brief Flower Visitor ... Can You See Him?

I'm not feeling very well today (no worries, not COVID) - but we had another surprise visit from our recent  brief visitor to my Torenias.

Look closely ... can you see what it is?  

Very difficult to get a picture of, their wings beat so quickly and their green blends in easily with the flowers ...

Still can't see him?  

Here's a close-up, same 2 photos, same order - and a hint - look at the Torenia on the left ...

Still can't see him? 

Now I've circled him ... and if you look closely, you can see his black and white fanning tail, while he's hovering ....

And in this one, his wings are fully outstretched ...

Well, I'm not a quick enough camera shot - and it's extremely difficult to get a picture of one flying (only when they land, which he doesn't) - but I will keep trying! 

So in case you're saying, "Well, what the heck IS it, Chrystal, for goodness sakes, just tell us?!?" LOL...

It's  a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - only found in the Eastern half of the United States, some areas of extremely Southeastern Canada, Mexico, and Central/Latin America  - but they breed only in North America :)  ...

Can you imagine what our European ancestors must've thought upon first witnessing them in the New World? 

"Aaaak, what IS that?  Is it a bee?  What the heck is it?  Will it sting me?"  lol. 

Which is why, to the Aztecs, the Hummingbird was an actual God they worshiped - actually their main God - the God of the sun and military stealth (because they can sneak up on you and disappear just as quickly lol)   - Huitzilopochtli ...

To the Mayans, however - as well as most Native American tribes - the hummingbird isn't an actual deity, but is instead a divine messenger - the messenger between humans and their ancestors and God - a symbol of divine love, compassion, and healing for the fragile condition  of the human heart. :)

In other words, to the Mayans and most Native American tribes, hummingbirds are divine healers of the broken and grieving hearts  :)

You can see how they got that connotation, because their appearance is so quick and fleeting, but lifts your spirits  and instills an appreciation of the wonder of creation like nothing else :)

In fact, though the Tligit and Haida Native-American and First Nation tribes (Pacific Northwest United States and British Columbia, Canada) also consider them symbols of love and healing, they have further tacked on the spiritual significance of wonder/enchantment/beauty of creation :)

(As mentioned, they don't have ruby-throated hummingbirds in the west, but they do still have hummingbirds - not as iridescent and colorful, but still colorful.) 

So ... here's a stock picture of the ruby-throat one from the back ... 

 I know, it's hard - his beating wings blur the photo - but after comparing with the above stock photo, can you now better see his black and white fanning tail in mine?  ... 

Aren't they beautiful? 

Amazing creatures to watch :)

This was a male, ruby-red throat and all, but I couldn't get a picture of the front of him.

Hummingbirds in general prefer "trumpeting" type flowers rather than flat-petaled flowers.

They beat their wings 70 times per second - and can hover over a flower for long periods of time, just like a bee, then stick their long beaks and long, needle-thin tongue way down within the flower to extract the pure, sweet, undisturbed, juicy-delicious nectar :) 

In fact, their wings flap so fast they make a soft buzzing sound, similar to a bee, but much softer - but their call while feeding is a distinctive, rhythmic little "bing" sound -  almost like a frog or a snapping rubber band - so you know when they're near :)

Here's a video of a male feeding (not mine) - they're quick, they hover for a few seconds, then move on - but they are capable of hovering in one spot for up a full minute, at times; i.e., when feeding their babies.

This zoomed-in video makes them look bigger than they are - they're actually tiny, tiny little birds, an adult male being roughly the size of a young chickadee ....

For reference, here's a stock photo of a hummingbird nest with 2 eggs, with a regular household key lying on it ...

Another stock photo for further reference shows their eggs to be even smaller than your thumbnail ... :)

Hummingbirds are absolutely fascinating creatures to watch, defying the rules of all other species of birds, and fairly rare to see in populated areas - it feels like you've been blessed to see one, very lucky :)

(In fact, though I've lived in either Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida my whole life - to include rural areas - I had never seen a hummingbird of any type, live, until 2012.)

We also have this new regular visitor to one of the two bird feeders we have now ...

For people who aren't bird nerds like me, this is a Downy Woodpecker :)

When not pecking our birch tree for insects, he pops over for the delicious fruit and nut mix in our feeder (we have one mesh screen one filled with thistle seed and sunflower see just for small finches so as not to be bullied off by larger birds, and this one about 10 feet away for larger birds, filled with a mix. :)

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