What's on the canvas these days?
Gamini is painting all the Hummingbirds of the world for an upcoming exhibition and book; he is currently on 185 of 338 species!
Let's fly into the life of hummingbirds, some info about the migration from the good people at Hummingbird Central. You can check our their nifty page to learn even more about hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds are migratory creatures.
Many hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America or Mexico, and migrate north to their breeding grounds in the southern U.S. and western states as early as February, and to areas further north into Canada later in the spring. The first arrivals in spring are usually males.
Some, however, do not migrate, in areas like California and the upper Pacific coast.
By late summer and early fall, breeding is completed and the southward migration back to Mexico and Central America is underway.
Although there are differing views in the birding community as to what triggers the start of fall migration, it is generally thought that hummingbirds sense changes in daylight duration, and declining numbers of flowers, nectar and insects.
Instinct, their internal biological calendar, and cooling weather conditions also play a role in making the decision to migrate.
Making the Trip South
During migration, a hummingbird's heart beats up to 1,260 times a minute, and its wings flap 15 to 80 times a second. To support this high energy level, a hummingbird will typically gain 25-40% of their body weight before they start migration in order to make the long trek over land, and water.
They fly alone, often on the same path they have flown earlier in their life, and fly low, just above tree tops or water. Young hummingbirds must navigate without parental guidance, or previous flight experience.
Hummingbirds fly by day when nectar sources such as flowers are more abundant. They are also experts at using tail winds to help reach their destination faster and by consuming less energy and body fat.
Research indicates a hummingbird normally can travel as many as 23 miles in one day. At that rate it can take several weeks to reach their wintering grounds from summer breeding grounds in the northern U.S. or southern Canada. But in certain circumstances, like the journey over the Gulf of Mexico, they can fly for more extended lengths of time, like 22 hours, nonstop!
While some hummingbirds begin their fall migration as early as late July, most don't start their journey south till August or September.
Some End Their Fall Migration in the U.S.
Hummingbirds are overwintering on the Gulf Coast in greater numbers than in the past, and many can be found at feeders in South Texas and South Louisiana during mild winters.
For example, in South Louisiana, several species are often spotted during the winter months, including the Ruby-throated, Rufous, Black-chinned, Buff-bellied, Calliope, Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Broad-billed.
A few hummingbird species are year-round residents in the warmer Pacific coastal and southern desert regions of the United States. Among these are Anna's hummingbird, a common resident from California inland to Arizona and north to British Columbia.
How Long to Leave Up Hummingbird Feeders?
During the fall migration, it is recommended that hummingbird lovers leave up their feeders for about two weeks after they sight their final bird. Just to feed those late-migrating hummers!
Fall Migration Patterns of Common Hummingbird Species
The Continental Divide is host to the greatest number and diversity of western migrating hummingbirds. A nearly constant high pressure dome called the “Great Basin High” features winds that rotate clockwise and that are followed by the hummingbirds. This provides consistent tail winds to support migration.
Rufous, Calliope, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds migrate north up the valleys and along the foothills of the Pacific slopes of the western United States, sipping nectar from spring flowers. This route is often called the ”Pacific Flyway” or “floral highway.” They reach the Northwest in early summer.