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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hummer Time

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, male

Salvia, "Lady in Red"

Think hummingbirds. Summer is hummer time. Think about growing red tubular flowers such as the Salvia "Lady in Red" that we grow as an annual here in NH.

It's not that hummers won't go to flower of other colors, they certainly do. It's just that these red tubular flowers are specially adapted to be more exclusively just right for hummers. They are oriented horizontally and have a long floral tube with the nectar deep inside at the base of the tube. Thus a hovering hummer, with it's long bill and long tongue, (not a bee with short mouthparts) can extract the delicious flower nectar. In turn, the hummingbird gets dusted on the forehead with the pollen from that flower, transports the pollen to the next flower, and is the pollenation accomplice in the continued survival of that species of plant. Win, win.

Lots of people are still sending us reports of the status of their hummingbirds, or lack of hummingbirds, click here.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if you can help me. I have left four hummingbird feeders out to help the young migrating Ruby Throats from the North. I am in southern Delaware and my local birds left by the end of the first week in September.
I have been having migrating visitors almost daily.

One young bird got here on Oct. 2, and seemed very healthy. On the evening of Oct. 3- I noticed that this hummer was having trouble swallowing. His favorite feeder is just outside my living room window and I have an excellent view.

Through binoculars I have observed this behavior--He drinks solution then raises his head totally skyward and seems to heave and heave(like having great difficulty swallowing) and he can not seem to get the last quarter inch of his tongue in.
I really did not think he would live through last night but he was at the feeder at 7:55 this am(Oct. 5)with the exact same behavior.
Could he have been stung by a wasp? I have noticed a couple at the feeders. Or does he have a disease?
I just want to help the little guy (or gal) live.

If he has something on his tongue he did not get it here. I change my feeders daily.

I wonder if a hummingbird can live through a bee or wasp sting?

Lillian Stokes said...

We are not sure what the problem is. We have not heard of hummingbirds being stung by bees. Hummers usually leave bees alone. Your best bet is to continue to fill your feeder with clean nectar solution every day until all the hummers have migrated through.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me.
My poor little Humming Bird died Sunday evening. I was able to talk to Bill Hilton ,Jr. at Operation Ruby throat and he seemed to think she may have a fungus on her tongue.
I know it was only one bird but it did make me very sad. Thanks again