Even though the hummingbirds have already been sighted in mid-Missouri, where I am located; I have yet to see one. It is usually a couple of more weeks after the first arrivals before I see my first hummer. I'm sure the majority of the birds lag behind those earliest travelers documented by dots on the map. My personal first observation usually happens when my red buckeye is in flower in my backyard. That shrub's long, red, tubular flowers contain nectar that always attracts the hummers. They also visit the red and yellow blooms of columbine that blooms at about the same time. Both plants are now a couple of weeks shy of flowering, by my estimation.
As I sit in my office on a cool, gray day when spring's progress seems to be temporarily on hold; it is reassuring to view the map of an ongoing natural migration that has occurred in thousands of springs before this one. It's an important reminder that the old forces are still at work in the natural world, following cues that we have missed amid the thousand distractions of daily life.
Here are a few fun facts about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird:
The only hummingbird species that nests in Missouri.
Our smallest bird; its nest is the size of a walnut.
It can lose up to half of its body weight during its non-stop migration flight across the Gulf of Mexico.
It can reach flight speeds of up to 60 m.p.h.
Most will have left Missouri by late September to return to wintering grounds in Central America.
By: Tim Smith