As I sat outside this week and enjoyed Mississippi’s wonderful (and much cooler) weather, a pair of my hummingbird friends came to visit again. I rarely see them buzz around together, so this sight was a special treat – until I realized theirs was not a friendly pairing. They were vying for the nectar of the few summer flowers left in my yard.
Even so, it was a sight to behold as two tiny marvels of God’s creations provided me with a momentary view of their majesty and splendor.
Think about it! These tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds have a heart rate of up to 1200 beats each minute and can zoom by (backward and forward) at 25-30 miles per hour. And get this! They have been clocked at diving at twice that speed.
They can hover like a helicopter as well, and since their wings beat over 50 times per second, that’s the distinct humming noise that gave them their name. It’s no wonder that their nests look like a large thimble with eggs smaller than jellybeans.
Plus, these tiny emerald green and ruby beauties weigh about as much as a nickel and consume nectar and insects (sometimes as many as a thousand per day) equivalent to half their weight. They only grow to a bit over three inches long and three inches wide. Yet, the bee hummingbirds of Cuba are twice as small as the ruby-throated variety we see here in the eastern half of North America.
These ruby-throated wonders winter in Mexico and Central America, requiring them to fly more than 500 miles nonstop across the waters of the Gulf to reach their warmer winter homing grounds.
Since their migration takes them directly to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi around this time each year, it provides scientists with the perfect opportunity to band these hummingbirds and study them up close.
It is also the perfect time for Mississippians to gather at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center and celebrate these tiny marvels at the annual Hummingbird Festival this weekend, September 14-16, 2023.
Sponsored by Chevron, festival attendees will meet hummingbird lovers from across the nation, hear some great stories, learn more about the birds, and witness the banding and release of these international travelers. There will also be vendors to visit and other animals to see and enjoy. It’s a great weekend adventure for all ages.
For more information on Hummingbird Festival 2023, click here.