Greetings fellow avian enthusiasts! My name is Heather and I’m a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. As a hummingbird, I am delighted to share with you the incredible journey that my kind embarks on every year - the great hummingbird migration!
Let me start by telling you a bit about myself. Like most Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, I spend my summers in North America. But when autumn approaches and the temperatures begin to drop, I, along with millions of other hummingbirds, start to prepare for our incredible journey to warmer climates in Central America.
As a tiny bird, weighing in at only a few grams, you might wonder how we manage to fly such long distances. Well, we have a few tricks up our sleeves! Firstly, we are incredibly efficient fliers - we can beat our wings up to 80 times per second, allowing us to fly at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. This event takes a strong cardiovascular system, too; during migration, our heart rates get as high as 1260 beats per minute. We also have the ability to store excess fat, which gives us the energy we need to fly for long periods without stopping. By using tailwinds, we are able to conserve our energy and body fat stores.
But even with all our adaptations, the journey is still a daunting one. For some hummingbirds, it can mean flying up to 500 miles over open water, without a place to rest or refuel. Can you imagine that? It's like flying from New York to Chicago without stopping for a break!
To prepare for our journey, we start to feed heavily on nectar and insects, building up our fat reserves. We also grow a thicker layer of feathers to keep us warm during the colder nights. This means we really appreciate extra nectar you humans provide during the late summer months!
When the time comes, we take off on our journey, navigating using many tools, including the sun and stars, as well as our keen sense of smell. We fly over mountains, deserts, and oceans, facing dangers like storms and predators along the way. But we persevere, driven by the instinct to survive and the desire to reach our destination.
And when we finally arrive in Central America, we are greeted by a lush paradise of tasty flowers and insects, providing us with an abundance of food and shelter. We spend the winter months here, feasting and resting, before making the return journey back to North America in the spring with the males leading the way.
The great hummingbird migration is truly a remarkable feat of endurance and perseverance. We may be small, but we are mighty! So the next time you see a hummingbird, take a moment to appreciate the incredible journey that it has undertaken, and the determination and resilience that it embodies.