January 31, 2012

Hummingbirds in the Wintertime?

Practically every day I see pigeons, crows, seagulls, starlings, robins, chickadees, sparrows.  Closer to the water, there are ducks, geese, eagles, herons and the list goes on. The Seattle Audubon Society says there's over a hundred species of birds that live in the city.  They all have different ways of interacting with humans.

Seattle also has hummingbirds.  Today, one came up to me, noticing me watching it through my bedroom window.  I was in awe as it hovered, investigating me.  I asked what it was doing here in the wintertime.

Apparently, over the last couple decades, Anna's hummingbird has decided to reside in this region year-round.  At night, especially cold ones, they go into "torpor," or temporary hibernation.

Seattle gets a lot of rain during the winter, and the birds are able to shake water off their heads at incredible speeds.  While the creature flaps its wings thirty times per second, it can simultaneously shake its head 180 degrees in less than 0.1 seconds.  That's beyond amazing.

(Update:  Now I see them all the time!  Maybe I'm seeing the same one over and over?  It's so cute!)

(Another update:  Okay, so I went to the Cascades on a camping trip, and a guy at a cabin had three hummingbird feeders. When I stood very still behind the feeders, twenty or so birds zipped in and around, investigating me, feeding...like literally six inches from my face.  XD  UNFORGETTABLE!)

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