- The hummingbirds which I consider “ours” return to Sontheim year after year as long as they don’t perish during their wintertime journey South. A few weeks ago the last of our flying jewels embarked on their difficult journey and now they are gone for the year; yet the hummingbird feeders are still busy with new arrivals from the North.
- Our Hummingbird population this year started with approximately ten returning females and eight males. Given such a small number of returning birds from prior years of nearly a hundred, the majority must have perished along the way. This reality brought home the true impact of the continuing environmental devastation that is happening across our planet, and needless to say, it made us exceedingly sad.
- In spite of the sad beginning, I noticed right away that all the returning birds were young and healthy and none of them had returned to Sontheim for their final Summer. In prior years there would always be one or two time worn Hummers, usually females, who would park themselves at the feeder in front of the kitchen window. That is usually a sign of their declining health and I would keep an eye on them until I saw that it was their time to cross the bridge.
- These amazing little jewels would alow me to gently scoop them into the palm of my hand as their bodies gave out. There they would die peacefully and I always felt the comfort they received from my presence at the moment of their passing.
- The breeding season of 2010 was incredibly successful with two clutches of live babies in short succession arriving at the feeders. Our Hummingbird girls produced about forty babies and thus brought Sontheim’s Hummer population back to nearly half its normal size. We watched as the fledglings explored their wings and learned to become expert flyers. They followed the adults to the feeders and learned to drink the sweet sugar-water as deeply as their elders.
- For several weeks now I have observed migrating Hummers find our feeders and stop to regain their flight weight. This usually takes a week or more and quite often these newcomers have to learn to use our feeders. Some of these birds can’t seem to find the feeding ports which are not distinguished by a different color and so I ended up putting one of our old-fashioned feeders out. This one has the feeding ports clearly marked by yellow plastic flowers with a red center and it always meets with success.
- The ongoing influx of migrating Hummingbirds from the North indicates that the breeding season across North America was a success. It will be interesting to see how long the migration continues this year. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment: