Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird's Story

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Tuesday, June 21st 2011 at the home of Linda Wilburn.  Wilburn and Babs Gordon hosted the meeting. Members and guests enjoyed shortcake, ice cream, and fresh peaches from Woodbury while they chatted and had a brief business meeting.
Wilburn gave an update on the streetscapes noting the special order engraved tiles were the delay and when they come in much of the work can be completed. Landscaping will not take place until October when simple dwarf crape myrtles and shrubs will be installed on the islands. Phase 2 of the streetscape plan has been approved with $300,000 for renovating the west side of the square. Wilburn also gave an update on the animal shelter noting the hearing in Atlanta, meetings with the commissioners and Friends of the Meriwether Animal Shelter with the plan to get one commissioner on the board of FOMAS.
Linda Wilburn provided the garden club program which came from a purchase she made from Birds and Blooms magazine, a publication much admired for its stunning nature photography. The video, First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story, was filmed and produced by Las Vegas homeowners Noriko and Don Carroll. They purchased a home that had a Black chinned hummingbird make its nest on their clothesline in the open sided garage attached to their home. The clothesline gave the cameras a 360 degree view of the action at the nest making for near perfect filming views. The camera was triggered by a remote that family operated in the house when they saw movement.
The bird came every year for three years, rebuilt the same nest, laid clutches eggs, and raised her young. She made the nest on the clothesline between two clothes pins that kept the nest upright. It was made of plant fiber plus spider webs that were sticky yet flexible so the nest stayed secure in breezy weather. The nest was about two inches in diameter.
The hummingbird made the migration to Mexico every year but always returned so the Carrolls began filming.  The eggs are the smallest of all birds’ eggs compared to their size and were the size of a coffee bean. The mother protected the eggs for about two weeks until the hatching happened.  The film was phenomenal showing the movement inside the shell before hatching then the baby birds made a line of holes in the shell and worked for hours to emerge.
The mother bird’s life went into speed mode as she began to feed the babies insects on a dizzying schedule. It was a constant two weeks of foraging for food for her young. By day 14 the pin feathers were clearly showing, and the wing flapping and fluttering began.  They used the oil from under their tails to preen their feathers.
By the 17th day the babies were so big she could not land on the edge of the nest to feed them but had to hover with the wings beating 50-70 times a second. There was also humor in the film when the family cat hung out in the garage.
The fledglings were more difficult to film and follow but the Carrolls had snippets of film of them learning to fly and land on limbs. The mother bird was stressed to stay with and protect the birds.  The film was most enjoyable as most club members followed hummingbirds in their yards and had colorful sugar water feeders for them.