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Nature at Home: Hummingbirds

While traveling to places like a state park can be a great way to experience the Wild Side, you don’t always have to go great distances. Sometimes the wild will come to you. And in the case of the tiny but mighty hummingbird, even journey great distances…so you can enjoy Nature at Home. But be sure to take good care of your migratory friends.

Avoid commercial nectar. Making your own nectar is best. Just mix 1 part sugarcane or beet sugar with 4 parts boiling water, then stir until the sugar dissolves. Be sure to cool the mixture completely before placing in a feeder. Nectar can ferment and make the hummers sick if it’s out for too long, so be sure to change it every 3-4 days. Keeping your feeders clean is also important. If you’re having problems with mold growing on the feeder, try washing it in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water.

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures. They can migrate up to 600 miles over the Gulf of Mexico. They’re the only birds that can hover over sustained periods of time. And have you ever noticed how their feathers seem to change color? That’s because when look at hummingbird, you’re seeing iridescence….differential refraction of light waves  that tends to change as the angle of view changes. There are little compartments called platelets,  a combination of melanin and air, on hummingbird feathers and however those compartments hit the sun, light is reflected or refracted back. And so it’s a structural color that can change. That’s one of the very unique things about hummingbirds…they’re not just red or just blue. Sometimes the way that the light hits them they look black and people will say, “I’ve found a different species,” but it’s just the way that the light is hitting the feathers on the hummingbirds. And so their colors are truly iridescent, structural colors…very unique.

From show 2702.