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August 31, 2012
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Hummingbirds prepare to head south in late summer

RENO, Nev. — Beginning in August, millions of hummingbirds began traveling to Mexico and Central America as part of an instinctive migration pattern they have followed for hundreds of years. For many, this trip includes a trans-gulf, non-stop flight that takes approximately 18-22 hours and covers 500-600 miles. For the western United States, the Rufous Hummingbird holds the record for longest migration path, from as far north as Alaska into Central America. Bird enthusiasts can expect to see more hummingbirds visiting their feeders during this time.

At the peak of migration, bird banding studies indicate that, with very few exceptions, the hummingbirds that visit feeders on any given late-summer day are completely replaced by new migrants within 24 hours. To estimate a total number of hummingbirds using your feeders daily, multiply times five. For example, if you see 10 individual hummingbirds at your feeder at one time, you have about 50 passing through your yard that day.

Hummingbirds feed on flower nectar, insects and sugar-water solution placed in specially designed feeders. Despite popular belief, hummingbirds do not suck up nectar with their bills. They actually lap it up with their tongues, drawing nectar from its source up and into their mouths almost 12 times a second. You can watch this remarkable tongue in action with a Wild Birds Unlimited Window Hummingbird Feeder. These feeders feature a transparent bowl that allows you to watch a hummingbird’s long tongue and rapid lapping action.

A high-calorie diet is important to sustain these active birds and to build fat reserves for their migratory trip. Hummingbirds possess the fastest metabolism of any warm-blooded animal on the planet, consuming up to twice their body weight in nectar every day.-

The color red is a visual cue that lets hummingbirds know food is available. The Certified Bird Feeding Specialists at Wild Birds Unlimited advise against adding red food coloring to nectar. Instead, pour the clear nectar into a red-colored feeder to attract the birds.

About Wild Birds Unlimited

Wild Birds Unlimited, located inside Moana Nursery locations in Reno and Sparks, Nev. (1100 W. Moana Lane, 11301 S. Virginia St. and 7655 Pyramid Hwy.), is part of the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 275 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Visit www.reno.wbu.com for more information.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Aug 31, 2012 06:45PM Published Aug 31, 2012 06:44PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.