Saturday, September 19, 2015

I Didn't Know They Could Do THAT!

How often do you get to see a hummingbird close up and get some understanding of what they are like by nature? Sorting through the photos of hummingbirds I took this year, I came across a few where they were doing things that you might be surprised they can do. This little jewel may appear to be scratching herself at first, but in actuality, if you look closely, she is biting her toenail. I think she had a hangnail.

They do blink their eyes and they don't appear to have a nictitating membrane like some birds. I watched one through the telephoto lens one day while it was resting quietly on the rope and compared it's blink rate to my own. She was blinking at just a little bit faster rate than a human — me being the human.

This is most of her tongue. They ingest nectar through capillary action. The tongue retracts into a space at the back of their skull above the eyes. They do this after visiting the feeder. It is kind of like wringing out a washcloth when you are done with it.

Yes, they do actually have an upper and lower bill. You just don't see it that often since they don't have to open their mouths very wide to ingest nectar or pollen.

If you look at some of the other pictures in this blog where the bird is at rest, you will realize how unusual the position of her wings in this image is. Usually, they fold them in tight into a narrow band. She landed somewhere else later that day and her wings were like this on that occasion also.

You almost have to study this image to be able to understand what you are looking at. The hummingbird has her head cocked over sideways and is looking straight up in the air. Her beak is foreshortened because of the slight angle and she is scratching the top of her head with her stumpy little leg and big toes.

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