Little Hummers, Little Wonders - April 2020
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW
Hummingbirds are one of the small wonders of nature. They are beautiful, energetic, the smallest of birds, and they can disappear from sight in a flash!
My husband Tom and I finally attracted our first hummingbird to our feeder in the spring of 2018. That summer we had such fun observing them! By fall, we were sad to see them go, and we were eager for their return the next spring.
When our first little hummer arrived on April 26, 2019, it was a little earlier than we expected, so we did not have our feeders out.
I first saw the little ruby-throated fella when I was ready to walk out the door to go to work. He came up to our back kitchen window, about six inches from the glass, paused in midair, and looked in. I was surprised and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, little guy! I have to go, but I’ll be back and feed you tonight.”
That evening I washed two feeders, boiled syrup, and let it cool. I hung a feeder outside the back kitchen window and one on the front porch. His welcome-home supper was ready, and he soon returned to eat. I had told my husband he was “a skinny little guy!” that had probably lost weight on his trip back to Kansas from Central America.
In case you are not familiar with hummingbirds, here are a few reasons they are such wonders:
- They can fly up to 30 miles per hour, 60 miles per hour in a dive.
- Their heart rate averages 1,200 beats per minute.
- They breathe 250 breaths per second.
- Their wings beat 50 to 200 flaps per second, making an audible whirrr.
- The ruby-throated, the most common hummingbird in Kansas, flies non-stop about 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico in the fall on their way to Central America.
- Hummers travel alone on their migratory journeys, not in flocks like some birds.
- Hummers usually weigh 3 grams, and they will double their weight to 6 grams before heading south for the winter.
- There are 325 species of hummingbirds in the world with eight species in Kansas.
- Each summer the mother usually hatches a nest of 2 pea-sized eggs, and she may hatch a second family.
- Hummers usually arrive in Kansas in early May and usually leave by the first frost, usually October.
- Toward the end of summer, the male hummingbirds leave first, then the females. The young birds leave last after putting on weight for their journey.
- The mothers rear the babies.
- Mother birds regurgitate a mixture of bugs mixed with nectar into their babies’ throats and feed them about every 20 minutes—busy moms!
The little hummers that visit Kansas each summer are only one of the small wonders in our state. But many of us do not “see” the wonders for various reasons. Maybe we are too busy with work or family. Maybe we are distracted or sad, such as after a loss.
I still remember my first spring after my husband died several years ago. I had difficulty finding joy even though flowers were in bloom around me. But as I took walks around our pasture, I gradually began to “see” nature’s gifts.
Frogs splashed into the pond. Red-winged blackbirds perched on cattails, showing off their shiny red and black feathers! Prairie chickens flew into the air when startled, and I found a nest of turkey eggs close by the path. Wonders of nature were all around me!
If one of your loved ones has died, maybe you are still too sad to see the wonders of springtime. But why not give it a try? Just go outside and sit in your yard. Close your eyes and let the warmth of the sun calm your soul.
Listen to the sounds around you. Maybe you will hear the coo of a dove or birds singing in a tree. Then open your eyes and look for the songsters. Small wonders are there to remind us that life must go on. Sometimes we just have to look.
Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator