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Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas — Book Review

Hummingbird Facts and Folklore book.

Hummingbird Facts and Folklore from the Americas book.

Hummingbirds, Facts and Folklore from the Americas, is a wonderful and surprising new book by Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks. You can enjoy this book as  biology, folklore and art.

It is wonderful because this 64-page, 8 x 10 book is packed full of beautifully written facts and stories. Even if you have already been reading about hummingbirds I’ll almost guarantee you will find facts in this book that you have not run across before.

The book is concise, authoritative, and easy to understand. It is also entertaining and fun to read. I recommend it for adults and children alike. Author Jeanette Larson is a librarian as well as a writer, and the research, like the writing, was apparently a labor of love.

The book is surprising because the beautiful, realistic illustrations were created with fabric and needlework. Co-author Adrienne Yorinks illustrated the book with her own original needle art.

You can see thousands of hummingbird photos on the Web, but you’ve never seen anything like Yorinks’s simply beautiful needlework paintings. The book would make a great gift for someone who loves the fabric arts.

One reason this is a great book for both adults and children is that while the facts are fascinating, each chapter also includes a Native American teaching story on hummingbirds: (more…)

Attracting Birds to a Tropical Garden

Some individuals enjoy bird watching but prefer to do their bird watching in their back yard. Below is some advice on attracting wild birds to your back yard.

Firstly it depends upon having wild birds in the general area where your house is located and then you can attract then to your backyard. The method used to attract the birds will depend upon what is the diet of the bird.

If the bird is a nectar feeder e.g. bananaquits or hummingbirds, then large flowering plants will attract them. Hummingbird bills are perfectly adapted to the various types of flowers that they feed on, so different types of flowers will attract different hummingbirds.

Some hummingbirds have especially curved or elongated bills that allow them to feed on special flowers, eg the White-tipped Sicklebill hummingbird whose downward curving bill allows it to draw nectar from heliconias. The Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird has a short and slightly decurved bill that is suited to feeding on the flowers of the ixora shrub.

The Blue-tailed Emerald has a short bill that is suited for feeding on the Hibiscus flower. The Copper-rumped Hummingbird has a straight long bill that allows it to feed on medium sized tube shaped flowers such as the allamanda. (more…)

Five Steps to Happy Hummers

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubri...


1. Get the Right Kind of Feeder.

Saucer type feeders with perches and ant motes are preferred.

I have been using saucer type feeders almost exclusively for years. I feel the birds prefer them to the tube type and they are generally much easier to clean.

Birds like to perch, rest, catch tiny bugs and survey their territory at the feeders. Sitting and resting during feeding saves precious energy and helps young birds to socialize. The flat feeders also give the little guys a much better view of their spread.

I have learned the hard way that yellow flowers on feeders are unnecessary. They not only attract ants and bees, they can become brittle and break. The extra pieces also make the feeder harder to clean.

I recommend the HummZinger by Aspects which is basically only two pieces. It is attractive, drip resistant, easy to clean and has a deeper well which deters bees and wasps.

This is a sketch of my Fancy Hummzinger from my Drawing Everyday Blog. (more…)

Hummingbirds – Beautiful and Active

Rufous Hummingbird - All fired up to impress t...

Image by Rick Leche via Flickr

Hummingbirds are one of the most beautiful and active species of birds to watch; their colour and the way they dart around are so entrancing to the keen bird watcher.

There are over three hundred species of hummingbirds, native to the Americas and parts of the Carribbean. They are particularly renowned for their mid air hovering ability, sustained by the rapid flapping of their wings, between fifteen and eighty times per second, the humming sound of which gives them their name.

They are the only species of bird which can also fly backwards as well as vertically, somewhat like a vertical take off and landing aircraft. Interestingly, their feet are not useful for walking, just perching so if they want to travel, they must fly.

There are seventeen species of hummingbirds which live in the USA, mostly in the warmer parts such as Texas, California and Arizona, although some can be found in the east and others in the Rocky Mountains. Most migrate to the warmer climes of Central and South America in winter but their route and destination is very much dependent on species. (more…)

Hummingbirds the Original Helicopter

Calliope Hummingbird / Stellula calliope - fem...
Image via Wikipedia

Hummingbirds are tiny, but rather sturdy little birds. They are wonderful little creatures and each one has its own personality, not to mention attitude.

Hummingbirds are the original helicopter and are considered by many to be little clowns as they dash and dart amongst each other. They are among the smallest of all warm-blooded animals and lack the insulating downy feathers typical of many other bird species.

Hummingbirds have long narrow beaks and long thin tongues. Their tongues are incredibly long ,about 2 ½ times the length of their beaks, which are rolled at the back of their throat (the best image to describe this is like a party blower, curled at one end). Their bills come in different sizes and shapes, also.

Hummingbirds have muscular bodies, extremely flexible wings and can beat their wings about 80 beats per second. They are famous for their many aerial displays. Hummingbirds are built for power and dazzle, they are little more than flight muscles covered with feathers. They are not very social animals, which is why you never see them flying in flocks. (more…)

Learning About Hummingbirds

Perched Copper-rumped Hummingbird (Amazilia to...

Image via Wikipedia

Author: brian ramsey

Hummingbirds are a joy for a birdwatcher to observe. They are found only in the Western Hemisphere, from as far north as Southeastern Alaska and the Maritimes of Canada and as far south as Southern Chile. There are approximately 350 species of hummingbirds with 320 species found in the tropics.

Within the family of hummingbirds is found the smallest bird in the world, the Bee Hummingbird of Cuba at 2.17 inches (5.5 cm) and weight 1.95gm (0.07 oz). Hummingbirds range in size from 2 inches to 8 inches.

The hummingbird derives its name from the humming sound that is produced by its rapid wingbeat. Generally the wingbeat is so rapid that the individual only sees a blur as most of these birds flap their wings about 50 times per second.

The speed of the wingbeat depends on the size of the bird, the largest the Giant Hummingbird, has a wingbeat rate of 10-15 times per second. The fastest recorded rate was about 80 times per second, on a tiny Amethyst Woodstar, and the slightly smaller Bee Hummingbird – the world’s smallest bird – may have an even faster rate. (more…)

Tips for Turning Your Backyard Into a Hummingbird Habitat (public domain image)Author: Steve Peek

Hummingbirds notoriously have a high wing-beat rate, and it is its fast wing-beat rate that generates the hum for which the hummingbird is named.

High Metabolism Rate

The largest of hummingbirds, the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas), grow to be about 24g and have an average wing-beat rate of 8-10 beats per second.

Mid-sized hummingbirds, the Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), grow to weigh about 3g and beat their wings at a rate of 20-25 beats per second.

The smallest species of hummingbirds, the Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), only grow to approximately 1.8g, and yet they beat their wings at about 70 beats per second.

One might wonder how a hummingbird could generate such an incredibly fast wing-beat rate, but this kind of metabolism is very similar to the energy derived by giving a three-year-old child a can of Mountain Dew to drink. The high sugar-intake taken by the child creates a situation where the child seems to bounce off the walls. Well, the same thing happens with the hummingbird too.


31 Gardens Show how Easy & Satisfying it is to Garden with California Native Plants

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB)

Interest in gardening with California native plants is growing every day. More and more Californians are learning how to garden with natives to reduce their outdoor water use, create a backyard habitat for wildlife such as birds and butterflies, and reduce the use of pesticides and chemicals in their lives, among other goals. In the process, Californians are discovering that native plants are beautiful, breaking the stereotypes they may have about them.

Los Angeles and Southern California residents will have a chance to explore their growing interest in natives at 31 private and public gardens during the third annual Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour on Saturday and Sunday, April 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gardens throughout the Los Angeles Basin will be featured, from Monrovia to Santa Monica, from Madrona Marsh in Torrance to Quail Hollow in Tujunga.

Tickets are $ 10 per person and can also be purchased by visiting or calling (818) 768-1802. Garden information, including plant lists and photos of gardens, can be found at the Theodore Payne website.

One of the key and unique features of the tour is that gardens will be hosted by garden owners and docents who share their passion and knowledge of gardening with natives with tour attendees. Most garden tours do not include the people who actually create and take care of the garden.

The gardens reflect a range of styles and ages. Some gardens on the tour follow a traditional or formal design, while others allow their natives to reach their wild potential. Some of the landscapes are mature and reflect years of experience in gardening with natives, while a few are developing gardens two or three years old. Garden owners and docents at each location will offer unique advice to gardeners of all skill levels and interests.

The tour gives attendees a unique opportunity to talk with garden owners and see firsthand how they dealt with particular garden conditions, like shade or erosion or a lack of water, said Keith Malone, garden tour coordinator. If you were thinking about gardening with natives and not sure where to begin, this is a great way to start.

The gardens are located throughout the Los Angeles Basin, including Downey, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Mid-Wilshire, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach Torrance, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Sun Valley, Tujunga, Granada Hills, La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Altadena, Monrovia, Highland Park, Echo Park and Atwater Village.

For more than 40 years, the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants, Inc. has dedicated itself to helping Californians discover the beauty of California native plants. The Foundation operates the Theodore Payne Nursery in Sun Valley, which offers more than 400 native plant species for sale to the general public. It is the only nursery in Los Angeles County devoted exclusively to native plants. In addition to the nursery, the Foundation has gardening classes and operates a wildflower hotline every March through May. The Foundation and nursery honor the legacy of Theodore Payne, who opened his first nursery in 1903 in Los Angeles. In his lifetime, Mr. Payne introduced more than 400 species of native plants into cultivation for public use.