How the heck do Hummingbirds Fly?
August 23rd, 2010

- How the heck do Hummingbirds Fly -

putting everything into your work


How the heck do Humming Birds Fly?

And how quickly another month's gone by!

September's near - so's time to say bye Little Guy,

That mighty little bird, the true master of the sky.



          It's been a busy summer with most weekends taken up with responsibilities in the parish.  Weddings, Baptisms, Anniversaries, Birthdays and as always, Funerals.  I can't believe the end of August is here and September is  just around the proverbial corner.  Last week my calender was empty .... nothing penciled in - not a thing - couldn't believe it.  Grabbing the opportunity took a week's vacation to catch up on some reading and a little sleep.  On one day alone, there were five naps.  Before noon! Five!  Eat your heart out Flying Dutchman!  It was so great to just take a day and do nothing but relax and nod off when the need arises.  Highly recommend it.

          On one of those days, sitting on a friend's deck, overlooking the grandest lake of them all, with the sun shining as it has all summer long, we were suddenly surrounded by seemingly hostile hummingbirds who strongly objected to our presence so close to their bountiful sugar supply.   They were the first hummingbirds of this summer for me, a sure sign that life had been too busy.  Seeing the hummingbirds reminded me of our first summer here in New Brunswick.  They simply fascinated me with their fancy flight patterns and perky persistence in defending their own personal supply of sugar.

          Apparently Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly forward and backward. They can hover in midair, fly sideways and even upside-down.  They also take about 250 breaths per minute while resting and thirty percent of a hummingbird's weight consists of flight muscles.  Other interesting facts about this beautiful and powerful little bird is that they can fly and average of 25-30 miles per hour (for old school runners) and for the new school runners that would translate into 40-50 kilometres per hour and dive at 60 miles an hour - approximately 100km per hour - almost as fast as the Flying Dutchman in his hey-day.

          Talking with a young friend the other day, she was explaining how she has to run 5 kilometers under a certain time as part of her training and for selection for her University hockey team.   I replied that was only 3 miles and she should be able to run that in under 20 minutes.  She is in her late teens and hadn't a clue what a mile might be let alone three.   So it was back to talking kilometers, but I digress .... again.

          Hummingbirds, someone has estimated, takes about 20 hours to fly 500 miles, ( for old school runners )  or 800 kilometers, ( for you new school runners) across the Gulf of Mexico.  That's 25 miles ( 36 km ) per hour.  Also, apparently, they need to eat, on average, seven times per hour for about 30-60 seconds.  While flying acroos the Gulf they do so on about 2 grams of fat!    Their favourite colour is red and they prefer tubular-type flowers.   They have no sense of smell and have tiny hairs on the tip of their tongue to help lap up nectar.  They eat soft, small bugs for their protein.

          I remember the first time setting eyes on this marvelous and mighty little birds as they visited a friend who always has a daily replenished supply of sugar.   I recall marvelling how they could fly, stop in mid-air, even dart backwards, all the while moving so quickly that they often seemed to vanish into thin air, reappearing just as quickly, as if by magic.

          Hummingbirds are entertaining, seemingly delicate, but certainly not gentle.  They are aggressive in defending their territory.  Sounds like Harry Drost about 100 yards from the finish line - ( new school runers will have to do their own math ). They use their acrobatic aerial speed and high-pitched squeaking battle cry to harass and chase off much larger birds - even hawks.  Watching my friend's feeder that first summer in Canada was more like being a spectator watching a war - an artistic aerial war - unfold as one hummingbird chased off other intruders daring to enter into its territory.

          Soon it will be September, there are signs of Fall splashed among the trees.  Perhaps it is too late to see the not so humble Hummingbird doing its thing, but its never too late to stop and smell the roses, and if its too late for that, as they bloomed three weeks early because of the early arrival of spring after an winter that just didn't really introduce itself, it never hurts to take a day for just, well ... for just napping.  Highly recommend it.  Harry Drost, who practices the art of napping every day since retiring, can give lessons for those who don't know how.  You will need a comfortable couch.   I hear Henny wants one of her own as Harry has taken us residence there since returning from their trip of a lifetime.

Blessings and Peace

the running rev


for more wonderful Hummingbirds antics see:---


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