By Christy Lowman
As summer is coming to an end, I wanted to tell you about my very favorite animal that visits me only in the summer. Can you guess what it is? If not, that’s okay. Let me give you a couple of clues. This animal is the teeniest of the tiniest of migrating birds. It can only be found in North, Central, and South America, nowhere else in the whole wide world. This animal visits about 100 flowers a day drinking more nectar than her body size. Have you guessed my favorite summer visitor yet? If you guessed a hummingbird then you are correct.
The most common hummingbird that visits North Carolina is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The male has a ruby-red throat, while the female is mostly green with a white throat. They can only be found East of the Mississippi. This bird likes red and orange flowers the best. That is why you will see red or orange on most hummingbird feeders.
There are over 330 different hummingbird species found in the Americas. They only live an average of 3- years. Most hummingbirds weigh as much as a nickel and grow to a maximum of 3- 5 inches long. However, the smallest, the bee hummingbird, is only 2 inches long while the largest, the giant hummingbird, is up to 8 inches in length. Hummingbirds lay only 2 jellybeans sized eggs in an incredibly small nest that is about the size of a half-dollar. They take up to 250 breaths a minute while their hearts beat around 1250 beats a minute.
Hummingbirds are terrific flyers. They do not flap their wings but rotate their wings in a figure-eight pattern. They beat their wings fast, between 50-200 times per second and can fly up to 34 mph. When the wind is blowing in their favor however, they can reach speeds of 50mph! These flyers are the only birds that can fly backward. They can also fly forward, upside down, and they can even hover, but they can not walk. Their tiny legs are only used for perching or for moving sideways while sitting. The humming sound of their wings beating is where they get their name.
Hummingbirds leave 10 times more pollen when visiting flowers than bumblebees do, making them a prolific pollinator. Their favorite flowers include bee balm, foxglove, and the hummingbird vine. They can not smell the sweet tantalizing perfume of the flowers, (or anything else for that matter) but can see and hear very well, even ultraviolet colors, especially the color red.
Male hummingbirds are very territorial. However, if you do get to see a flock of hummingbirds, they are called many different words such as a bouquet, a glittering, a hover, a shimmer, a tune or a charm.
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of all the animals except for insects. This is from the need to beat their wings so rapidly. At night they will fall sleep in a hibernation-like sleep called a torpor to conserve their energy.
Hummingbirds can be found as far as Alaska in the summer but in the fall when the daylight starts being less, they will travel up to 1864 miles to Mexico and Central America to spend the winter. Before this long migration hummingbirds will store up to half their body weight to use for energy on their long journey.
Hummingbirds mostly consume nectar but will occasionally eat insects for a source of protein. You can set out a feeder if you would like to feed them. For their food, all you have to do is mix 1 cup of cold water with a ¼ cup of sugar. Stir it several times over a course of time to let the sugar dissolve. Change out your water every 3 days to keep it fresh. When the hummer comes to eat, he will drink the nectar by moving his tongue in and out of the holes as fast as 13 times a second! It has been said that hummingbirds are very smart (even though their brain is the size of a piece of rice), and will remember you specifically and that you fed them. What I mean by this is that they will come back next year to visit you and drink from your feeder!
Hummingbirds do have predators: blue jays, fast-moving raptors, fish and praying mantis. So, check your feeders regularly to make sure there are not any praying mantises lurking around.
You are probably wondering why I decided to talk about this amazing little bird. Well, every year that we have lived at our new house, (almost 5 years now) I have vowed that as soon as spring rolls around I would hang out a hummingbird feeder because I love to watch them. Every year I get so busy and time gets away from me and I never get that feeder hung.
About two weeks ago, every morning when I would take our dog out to use the bathroom, I would have a hummingbird buzz around my head. I guess it was attracted to my red hair. I had already been a little bummed that I had missed another spring and summer without a feeder. I felt like this was God’s sign to hang it even though it is almost time for them to migrate south. SO, I did. I was very impatient. I sat on the couch and eyed the feeder almost nonstop. I couldn’t get anything done; I wanted an affirmation that it wasn’t too late, that I would still get to feed them before they left. I only had to wait about an hour before I had my first visitor. A week later we had 5 different ones that would stop by and drink. This got me to thinking. Has there ever been a time where you had to be patient and wait on God for something? Maybe you have been praying a specific prayer over and over waiting for God to answer it. Patience is a very hard thing to have when you are passionately wanting something to happen. Sometimes I am not very patient. I have been there, waiting, pleading, begging for God to answer prayers. One of those prayers I waited for over 15 years to be answered and there are some that I am still waiting to be answered today. My message to you is this, God will answer your prayers in His own timing. His timing is perfect and there is a specific time for your prayer to be answered. He may not answer them exactly how you want them to be answered either, but He will answer them. Do not give up, or get discouraged. Know that when that perfect time comes God will answer your prayer and you will understand why He had you wait until that time and why He answered it His way. Just like I had to patiently wait on the hummingbird to find my feeder, the hummingbird also had been waiting every spring and summer for 5 years for me to finally hang a feeder out for them!
Patiently wait on God, He knows best and only wants the best for you! Never give up on Him! Trust me, you will be glad you waited!
Dear Lord, please help us wait upon You to answer our prayers instead of trying to answer them ourselves. Help us not get discouraged while we wait and most importantly when You answer those prayers let us recognize they were answered and the reasoning for the timing. I pray we will always thank You for, however, You decide to answer our prayers! In Jesus’s name I pray-AMEN.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Christy Lowman is a Christian author and illustrator that lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and two children. She enjoys writing and illustrating books for all ages. Some of her short stories are published with Guideposts and HCI. Christy gives all the glory to God in everything she does. A portion of every book sold from the Small Bible Character Series will be donated to battle human trafficking. If you enjoy her books, “like’ her author page on Faceook and let her know! You can buy her books at //www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AChristy+Lowman&s=relevancerank&text=Christy+Lowman&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1. You can reach her at //www.facebook.com/authorChristyLowman/