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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Only in America

Well, okay, only in the Americas. Looking out our dining room window today, we got to enjoy a ruby-throated hummingbird working the lonicera sempervirens on the trellis. For anyone unfamiliar with the plant, it is a red honeysuckle native to North America that is an absolute hummingbird magnet. Unfortunately for the fragrance-obsessed gardener, it has no scent, but nobody's perfect.
Also unfortunately, the hummingbird kept moving too fast for me to focus my camera on it.

Hummingbirds, for anyone who didn't know, exist only in the Americas. We in the Mid-Ohio Valley only get to enjoy one species, but people in Florida, Arizona, and South America have a variety of hummers enlivening their yards (when it's not too hot to be outside, that is). Knowing how many of us are delighted by these tiny dynamos, I can only imagine how magical they must have seemed to the first Europeans who encountered them (or who noticed them--I don't see the conquistadores taking time off from looting, pillaging, and searching for gold to appreciate a green bird the size of a coin.) Hummingbirds, the smallest of all birds, have wingbeats faster than those of any other avian and are alone in having figure-eight wing movements, the reason why they can hover and fly backwards. Their hearts beat over a thousand times a minute when they are in full flight, but they can slow the rate to 50 bpm when cold temperatures send them into torpor.  Our local rubythroats may spend the winter in southern Mexico or Panama, where they get most of their calories from insects and spiders, though plant nectar is always a welcome source of carbs.

On this Fourth of July, I am grateful that we were paid a visit by this all-American bird.

And while it's not the same thing, I was able to photograph a hummingbird moth species that exists only in North America.

Happy Fourth, everyone! I hope you find time to enjoy some of our natural riches.

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