About Life, Birds, and Everything

Shamelessly self-indulgent musings on diverse subjects from Sheri L. Williamson, naturalist, conservationist, birder, speaker, artist, and author of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America in the Peterson Field Guide Series, Attracting and Feeding Hummingbirds (out of print), the title essay in Good Birders Don’t Wear White: 50 Tips From North America’s Top Birders, and the “Out the Window” and “Dispatches from the West” columns in WildBird magazine (no longer in publication).

Web site: www.fieldguidetohummingbirds.com

Links to Amazon.com benefit the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory.

The header image is a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Amazilia tzacatl, superimposed over the Mayan city of Tikal.

2 thoughts on “About Life, Birds, and Everything

  1. Hello, Sheri:
    I always appreciate your extensive knowledge about hummingbirds and their behavior, and a question occurs to me: I’ve read that ruby-throated hummingbird hatchlings spend 18 to 22 days in the nest, which is a long time in the avian world, where the average seems to be more like 12 to 14 days for songbirds. Why the extra week or so, do hummingbirds mature more slowly or need more time to develop their wing muscles?
    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    • Hi, Val! Interesting question, and you’ve already deduced that the answer has to do with the differences in mobility between hummingbirds and most other birds with altricial young. A young warbler, robin, screech-owl, etc. can walk, hop, and climb until its wing muscles, bones, etc. have matured enough to bear its weight, but hummingbird nestlings don’t have those options. If they aren’t prepared to fly when they leave the nest, at least far enough to find shelter from weather and predators, they’re essentially doomed. The extra time in the nest allows all the parts necessary for flight to mature enough for basic survival, and the final growth push happens out of the nest.

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