You can’t see them. You can’t hear them. Yet a million tiny wings beat in the clouds and sky, veering south, aimed toward Florida and Mexico and the Caribbean at this time of year.
They left late this year. The females buzzed around at least until September 14th, four days later than usual.
I have a theory. The females leave every year on September 10th and the males arrive again from their southern homes on May 10th. Every year. Come rain or shine or foul weather. They’re more regular than our clocks.
Except this year they were still here on the 14th.
“What’s up?” I asked Barry. “Why aren’t they gone yet?”
He had no answer.
But by the 15th–yesterday–they had departed. We think. A lone straggler or two may show up the feeder, but basically they’re gone.
Winter is a’coming.
Since I have no current-year hummingbird photos, let’s dive into the archives. Last year a hummingbird wandered into Barry’s garage and needed immediate rescue. It couldn’t seem to find its way out, and almost died. If you want to read the post which describes the drama please click here.
The precious hummingbird lived to fly into the sky. Is it flying now through the vapors, across the wheat and corn fields of the Midwest?
Did it return here this summer, back to the place where it sipped the nectar from our feeder? Where the sweet sugar of the Impatiens plant dove down its sharp beak?
The males usually leave this part of the Upper Peninsula by the end of August. The females follow about ten days later. Do they meet up with their mates in the land of the palm trees?
Do they somehow share stories of the long journey, of the rivers below, the bean fields, the way a hawk sometimes swooped from the sky?
We’ll miss you, dear hummingbirds. We imagine your trail through the sky. When you arrive next May the wildflowers will bloom again in the forest.
Don’t be late…we’ll dream of you through the long winter.
P.S. For those of you more interested in hummingbird facts, here is some nectar to feed your minds:
1. Hummingbirds fly about 25-30 miles an hour.
2. Ruby-throated hummingbirds (the variety that summer here) have been known to travel 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico to breeding grounds.
3. A hummingbird can eat anywhere between one half (1/2) to eight times its body weight a day. (Yes, a day!)
4. Some hummingbirds will travel over 2,000 miles twice a year during the annual migration.
5. Geese and hummingbirds fly on different migration paths and no, hummingbirds do not travel south on the backs of geese. That’s a rumor, folks.
6. Hummingbirds eat on the average of seven times an hour for 30-60 seconds per brunch.
7. They will visit an average of 1,000 flowers per day for nectar. (Who in the world figured this out?)
8. OK, instead of typing all these nifty facts, I will lead you to a page which will satisfy your hummingbird curiousity almost completely: http://www.worldofhummingbirds.com/facts.php