Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mighty tiny bird

Lately, as I've walked around Howarth Park, I've noticed that where there are dead branches high up in a tree there's a good chance of finding a male hummingbird perched there. If I sit down and just hang out the bird will usually keep an eye on me but continue about his business. There's one place that has an excellent flat rock nearby where I can sit quietly and sketch. I was able to spend more than an hour there, the other day, and draw the hummingbird as he came and went.

The hummingbird's look changes dramatically in different light and not just on his throat, where the right light reveals a brilliant, sparkly crimson patch. It seems that much of this Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna) has shimmery iridescence that can look dull as dirt in one light and sparkle with color when the light hits differently. It makes him a very exciting bird to observe! He turns his dark brown head and suddenly it sparkles with the most brilliant crimson. He moves slightly on his perch and I can see waves of green on his flank.

In the past month I've seen many birds pairing off to mate and have wondered why the hummingbirds I see always seem to be alone. Why aren't they pairing up like other passerines I see? Apparently, once the birds have mated, they maintain separate residences, presumably to keep the flashy male from alerting predators to the presence of the nest. The female takes on all of the nesting and parenting duties herself while the male spends his days keeping other hummingbirds out of their territory. Hummingbirds are rather fierce and will take on large predators such as hawks and crows. They also engage in harsh brawls with one another, often locking beaks and tumbling to the ground where they continue to fight, although with little physical injury.

I was surprised to see the hummingbird eat several insects and found that although hummingbirds drink a great deal of nectar (carbohydrate), they also need protein, thus the insects.

The small feet of this small bird aren't good for much except perching and I noticed that whenever he wanted to change position, even slightly, he flew rather than "walked" as I've seen other birds do.

I look forward to spending more time sitting in meadows observing and sketching these tiny but fascinating birds.

All About Birds
Hummingbird World
World of Hummingbirds

1 comment:

  1. Just beautiful sketches of hummingbirds Debbie - I love the bottom one where its following - an insect? - with its head. I so enjoy the research you do into all your subjects and how much information you give us with the drawings.