The Dominica News Online site has posted an article by Lissette Stevens about my absolutely favorite birds—the Caribbean hummingbirds. Since watching the beautifully colorful and tiny hummingbirds is one of the most highly-anticipated pleasures of going home, I found in Stevens a kindred soul. Here are some excerpts from the post. The link to the complete article is below. This also gives me the chance of including yet another photo of a charming hummer in the blog.
It’s quite amazing how much has been documented about this adorable creature, the size of an EC dollar – sometimes referred to as the ‘Colibri’ – when you consider that it’s only found in the Western Hemisphere and viewed therefore, in its natural habitat by only a tiny percentage of the global community.
Originating in equatorial South America, the majority of Hummingbirds still remain there simply because of the abundancy of suitable flowers – their raison d’etre – which bloom year round. But, as with many bird species, migratory patterns expand from the indigenous centre outwards and the Eastern Caribbean has been fortunate enough to attract an interesting cross section of the 328 known Hummingbird species.
In our region, Trinidad & Tobago claim 13 types, Grenada and Puerto Rico 9 apiece, Dominican Republic 5 and the rest of the Lesser Antilles an average of 3 to 4 per island; some are endemic to the territory, a few are passing ‘visitors’. Guyana, with its stunning remoteness, probably has species of Hummingbirds not even recorded yet!
These airborne specks are so colourful with exotic names such as Guiana coquette, white necked Jacobin, ruby-throated, Cuban emerald, crimson topaz, herran’s thornhill and violet-crowned et.al. Hue variations mainly occur on the head feathers and neck area, referred to as the gorget. The plumage here resembles rainbow-like colours of green, purple and red and a chameleon blend of art when in motion.
In motion of course evokes an image of hover mastery that has taken thousands of years to evolve. Besides its helicopter style, Hummingbirds can fly straight up, straight down, sideways and backwards, achieving a speed of 60 mph and can stop in an instant. It can move its wings at an average 53 beats a second, invert them and perform the aerodynamics of an insect, which could support the little known folklore theory that the Colibri at one time were flies that the Sun God converted into little birds.
Hummingbirds are considered the prime nectar searchers on the planet bar none. Blessed with long beaks and tongues they easily pluck this high calorie food from the remote corners of blooming plants, at the same time encouraging efficient flora pollination. Evidently, the colour of a flower is as important as its shape when attracting a Hummingbird. Red petals stand out amongst green foliage making them number one targets; orange, pink, yellow, blue and purple flowers make up the rest of the menu.
For the complete article go to http://www.dominicanewsonline.com/all_news/commentary/7969.html