Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hummingbirds: What They Drink, How Often, and Why

"Hummingbird Feeding"
"WildBird" magazine, via (May 1993)

"Researchers Studied Hummingbird Foods and Feeding and Question Using the 4:1 Sugar-Water Ratio In Feeders

"by Reed Hainsworth, Ph.D. and Larry Wolf, Ph.D.

"Obtaining the food needed to live from day to day is a fundamental part of life for birds. Imagine small hummingbirds discovering a large amount of food in one place, such as a feeder. For them a feeder is supernatural. Within a very short time at a feeder, a small, hungry hummingbird can solve its immediate requirements for food.

"The very size of hummingbirds makes their survival an even bigger adventure. Hummingbirds must eat more than their weight in food each day, and they fulfill this need by eating often. Because their survival depends critically on eating frequently more than any other animal - they continually face the danger of starving...."

This article is, I think, a good mix of fact and clear writing. It's a little more technical than some 'my friends the hummingbirds' pieces: which is a "plus" for me. The authors give insights into hummingbird behavior: how much they drink, and how often. Also, what happens when they're inactive during the night. Turns out, they don't go into 'hibernation mode' unless it gets so cold that they're in danger of running out of their stored energy.

I ran across it, looking up the "one part sugar with four parts water (1:4 ratio)." What this article isn't clear on is that the 1:4 ratio is by volume, not weight: although that could be inferred by a reference to "equal volumes of sugar and water (1:1 ratio)."

No problems there: it isn't intended to be a beginner's how-to.

Bottom line: this is a well-written, informed, article about hummingbirds and their feeding requirements.

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