August 25, 2011 by: Ann Harwood
Bed and Breakfast St. Ignatius, Montana
The month of August is very busy with wildlife activity of all kinds from elk and bears getting ready for hibernation to birds getting ready to migrate south for the winter. From the end of May to the first part of September, our hummingbird feeders are busy with the humming sounds and the beautiful variety of hummers that migrate here every year. The other night, while 5 guests were sitting in the hot tub, we counted at least 12 hummers feeding at the 2 feeders! They added laughter and smiles to the already happy crowd enjoying the Jacuzzi and the sunsets at Bear Spirit Lodge.
Hummingbirds are small, colorful birds with iridescent feathers. John James Audubon, American bird artist, said hummingbirds were “glittering garments of the rainbow.” Such beautiful “neighbors in nature,” they provide bird watching and photographic opportunities to guests staying here.
About 5 species of hummingbirds can be found in Montana, although their ranges within the state can be very limited. We usually see the some of the following species:
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Black-chinned Hummingbird
- Broad-tailed Hummingbird
- Calliope Hummingbird
- Rufous Hummingbird.
The hummingbird’s name comes from the fact that they flap their wings so fast, about 80 times per second, that they make a humming noise. Hummingbirds can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down. They are also able to hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern.
They have a specialized long and tapered bill that is used to obtain nectar from the center of long, tubular flowers. The hummingbird’s feet are used for perching only, and are not used for hopping or walking. Percentage wise, the hummingbird has the largest brain of all birds (4.2% of its total body weight).
Despite their small size, hummingbirds are fearless and quick to defend their food sources. They eat protein such as worms and spiders as well as nectar from flowers and sugar water from hummingbird feeders.
According to storyteller, Jamie Sams, the “hummingbird is the creature that opens the heart.” Plan your next vacation here at Bear Spirit Lodge for hummingbird watching season next summer!