Hummingbird Aerodynamics: Unique, Precise, and Lighter Than Air

Categories: Seasonal Bird Feeding

My hummingbird friend feeding from the classic Perky-Pet® Pinch Waist FeederHummingbird Migration is taking speed and soon hummers will be feasting on nectars in yards and gardens across the country. Much has been said about hummingbird migration and the flight patterns of these petite birds. Hummingbirds typically visit the same feeders, in the same order, year after year. Bird advocates who have been feeding hummers for any amount of time will often name their hummers and look forward to watching them at hummingbird feeders each day.

Not only is the appearance of hummingbirds intriguing, but their overall nature and behavior makes them a species that is a favorite to many. Hummingbirds are unique creatures that have the natural capabilities to be aerodynamic birds. Here’s what we mean…

Flight Facts Of Hummingbirds

What sets hummers apart from other bird species is their precise, darting flying patterns, small body structure, and natural beauty. Hummingbirds can fly up to 60 miles per hour when in a steep dive flight pattern. More commonly, hummers fly from nectar source to nectar source at speeds of 20 to 45 miles per hour. 

Approximately 90% of a hummers time in flight is spent hovering at a feeding spot. This behavioral trait is a large energy drainer of our tiny feathered friends; contributing to your frequent hummingbird feeder refills. 

Tip: During migration time, hummingbirds need all the energy they can get to make the long journey north. Make sure your feeders are out, filled, and ready to welcome hummers along their journey to warmer climates and breeding locations.

Physical Traits Make Hummers Lighter Than Air

- In addition to their small stature, hummingbirds have hollow bones and fused vertebrae and a fused pelvis. This physical feature eliminates excess weight that would be caused by additional muscle and ligaments.

- 25% of a hummer’s body weight is made up by their large chest muscles and sternum. Although, it’s these muscles that keep the hummer’s wings beating faster than ever (About.com).

- One of the most poignant features of these pint-sized birds are their wings. With long, sturdy bones at the tips of the wings, hummers are able to keep their wings stable, making for a more precise flight.

- Speaking of wings – did you know hummingbird’s wings beat 8-200 times per minute? Hummers make this all possible with a larger heart, pumping to support high levels of wing movement.

Hummingbird Aerodynamics Explained

With flight attributes that resemble insects, hummingbirds are unique birds with their own movements. What give a hummingbird the capability to fly straight, reverse, upwards, downwards, and upside down? The answer is a flexible shoulder joint that allows a hummer’s wings 180 degree rotation, often resembling a steady figure 8 motion. 

Normal birds use half of their weight to support upward movement and half for downward movement; that’s not the case for hummingbirds. Hummers use nearly 75 percent of their body weight for increasing motion of their wings. The other 25 percent of their weight supports downward motions (HummingWorlds.com). 

 

Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about what makes hummingbirds fly, what have you noticed about the hummers in your backyard? We want to hear from you! 

Spot your hummingbird sightings on our Migration Map and see where your favorite hummer is hovering. 

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3 Ways You Can Keep Bird Seed Dry

Categories: Seasonal Bird Feeding

Spring is just around the corner and as the old saying goes, “April showers bring…” wet bird seed. With the spring weather bringing wild birds and more moisture back into your life, it’s important to make sure that you are keeping your bird seed dry and safe for your feathered friends. 

1. Clean your bird feeders frequently.

Seeds, and hulls, can begin to sprout and eventually will spoil if not properly attended to. If your backyard buddies are feasting on moldy seeds, it will only be a matter of time until they’re infected with an avian disease. To keep birds healthy and happy, we recommend that you clean your seed bird feeders at a minimum of once every two weeks; increase cleaning as the weather gets warmer. 

To clean your seed feeders, use a mild soap and water solution and a cleaning mop to clean all of the crevices. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely before refilling the feeder with your wild bird’s favorite seed.

Bird Feeding Tip: For bird feeders that need a little more TLC, use one part vinegar to four parts water. Rinse thoroughly and dry before re-filling.

340 1 300x300 3 Ways You Can Keep Bird Seed Dry2. Monitor seed waste on the ground and accessorize your bird feeders.

You’re looking at your bird feeders each day enjoying the sight of wild birds feasting away, but do you ever notice the ground below your bird feeders? Keep the ground free of unwanted seed and hulls to deter pests and predators – and keep any harmful disease at bay. 

Add a squirrel baffle to your seed bird feeder to keep the moisture of rain, or snow, out of the seed. As an added benefit, pesky squirrels will be tumbled off of the seed feeder and denied access to the birdseed inside.

3. Store excess seed smartly and safely.

In order to keep up with the traffic to your seed feeders, it’s necessary for you to buy birdseed in bulk. Store your excess seed in air tight containers that can be placed in a cool, dry location. When deciding on the perfect storage location for your bird seed, make sure that the container is out of the reach of household pets, constructed of plastic, and cannot be spilled or tipped over.

 

Do you have other bird feeding tips to keep the seed in your seed feeders dry? Share them in the comments section below; we love learning from our bird feeding friends!

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Species Spotlight: North American Cardinal

Categories: Species Spotlight

 

With the cold winter weather that is pummeling most of the continental United States, we can’t help but think about the iconic winter birds to highlight in this month’s Species Spotlight. The North American Cardinal can be seen year round in backyards, forests, and open woodlands. Since this wild bird species doesn’t migrate and mull, the sharp red color is often a welcomed sight. To welcome these feathered friends close enough for your viewing pleasure, offer them a delicious meal of their favorite black oil sunflower seeds in any of the Perky-Pet® seed feeders.

The North American Cardinal is one of the most popular wild birds and is one of the easiest for birding veterans and amateurs to identify. But there’s a few features of the Northern Cardinal that makes them even more intriguing.North American Cardinal

- The female North American Cardinal is one of the few female songbirds that sings. Females can often be heard while nesting in high perches and will share song phrases with their mate.

- The nest of a North American Cardinal pair has four layers: twigs, leafs, bark, and grass. The male will collect the materials and the female will spend approximately a full week building the nest that has an internal diameter of three inches.

- Have you ever witnessed a Cardinal attacking their own reflection? This is a common occurrence during the peak of breeding season when Cardinals become extremely territorial. Some male Cardinals may spend hours fighting fiercely with their own reflection.

- The expansion of people, neighborhoods, and subsequently backyards have positively aided the North American Cardinal species.

- While the North American Cardinal is seen year round, the time of year influences how they travel from place-to-place. You’ll see these wild birds traveling in pairs during breeding season. However in the fall and winter, Cardinals will travel in flocks as large as several dozen.

 

If you haven’t already, add the North American Cardinal to your backyard bird watching list. Become a great Citizen Scientist and help wild bird research by recording their feeding habits, nesting, song, and more as you see it in your yard!

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