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The Magnificent Little Surprise!

There are so many beautiful birds in the world; however my very favorite is the hummingbird. Not only do I love seeing this little creature but I also love painting it. I decided before I painted my next picture of a hummingbird perhaps I should find out a little more about this feisty little bird. I thought you might be interested in learning some facts too. There are 330 species located in the Western Hemisphere. I had no idea there were so many! The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is mainly found east of the Mississippi River. However the one that can show up in the southern states during the winter is known as the Rufus Hummingbird. One thing that attracts me to this wonderful little creature is that it creates its very own mystery. First it catches you by surprise, and then in a split second, before you can even focus your eyes, it is gone, leaving you with a feeling of wonder and amazement. There is no wonder that this occurs because hummingbirds flap their wings 60 to 80 times in one second. Unbelievable! They always leave me with the feeling of wanting to see more. Luckily we have some talented photographers that have been able to capture their beauty with their lens so that others are able to enjoy this magnificent beauty. I would love to be able to watch these tiny little birds all year long; however we only see them for a limited time. They are here through the summer months and then they know when to leave for a warmer climate. Their migration begins when the daylight hours becomes less as well as their daily supply of insects. Ocasionally you may see some during November and December but migration usually begins in late August through the first of October.

For those of you that like to garden there are flowers that are loved by these magnificent little creatures. I thought you might like to know what flowers to plant in your garden to attract these birds: Sage, Bee Balm, Fringed Bleeding Heart, Lupine, Columbine, Cardinal Flower, Scarlet Gilia, Beardtongue, and Woodland Phlox are some of the best! Hummingbirds also love insects so you may find some buzzing around your garden. That’s why pesticides for the bugs in your garden or lawn could be harmful to the small bird and even poison them. If you’ve ever tried to view these creatures up close it can be a bit of a challenge. In order to accomplish this perhaps you have grown a hummingbird garden as mentioned above or filled a feeder with sweet nectar, whether it homemade or commercial. If you’ve never made your own homemade nectar I thought perhaps you might enjoy trying. Here’s the recipe and it is quite easy. Use one part white sugar to four parts water. You will want your water to be completely free of any impurities, so boiling would be best. This will also allow it to keep longer without spoiling. We all know that hummers love the color red, but it is best not to add any red dye to the feeder. This could harm the bird. Many feeders already come with the color red which makes that part easier. Place your sugar solution in a hummingbird feeder and enjoy. When you have not seen a hummer for several weeks at your feeder, and the weather is turning cooler, or the sugary water is beginning to freeze, this would be the time to take your feeder inside. I will leave you with one last amazing detail about these tiny little birds. I don’t think that I ever thought about a hummingbird’s age. I guess I thought they only lived maybe a year or so. To my surprise, according to records from banding, the hummingbird that

lived the longest was a broad-tailed hummer. Believe it or not, this bird lived to be 12 years and 2 months of age. However the usual life span is 3 to 4 years. I know that I enjoyed reading about these little birds. These little surprises are truly amazing and so much fun to paint. I have one on the drawing table at the present time. I hope to soon have a painting planned including this magnificent little creature. Hopefully I can share this with you soon. Resource: Birds and Blooms Magazine, Backyard Birding, and Wildlife Reference Photo

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