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Hummingbirds gone wild: More birds flying around the Crossroads

By by CAMILLE M. DOTY - CDOTY@VICAD.COM
Sept. 22, 2011 at 4:22 a.m.

With its wings flapping around 70 times a second, a hummingbird hovers under a tree in Mario Torres' backyard in Victoria. TODD KRAININ/TKRAININ@VICAD.COM

HUMMINGBIRD FACTS

They are the tiniest birds in the world.

They flash their bright colors, as well as hide them when needed.

The bright radiant color on hummingbirds comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism.

They can hear better and see farther than humans

Hummingbirds can see ultraviolet light

Hummingbirds have no sense of smell.

Source: worldofhummingbirds.com

Look in the sky - it's a bird, it's a plane.

Well not quite ... when it comes to hummingbirds. Most people hear their fluttering wings before they see their palm-sized frame.

What these migrating animals lack in size, they make up for in feistiness.

"You need a baseball helmet just to walk outside," said Mario Torres, of Victoria, who has a large number of hummers feeding at his house.

The father of three also said the hummingbirds spend half of their energy fighting one another.

This year, he said he's become more interested in hummingbirds because he has seen more than usual.

"There's been an abundance," he said. "I stopped counting."

As the pint-sized migratory birds head south, Torres said he fills two bird feeders full of sugar water every day. His recipe is one cup of sugar for every four cups of water.

Torres said he and his 13-year-old son, Jeremy Torres, have spent time together birdwatching.

The Torres family and other Crossroads residents have seen a recent increase in hummingbirds.

Experts said the extreme conditions could be a contributing factor for the greater numbers of hummers.

"These birds are desperately looking for food," said Paul Meredith, of Victoria.

The master naturalist said the Bastrop fires and the drought result in less viable land for hummingbird food.

He said the most common breeds in the area are the Ruby-throated, which migrate through September and the Rufous and Black-chins, which can be seen across Texas in October.

Meredith also said the hummingbirds need to bulk up for the traveling season.

The birds have a heart rate of 800 beats-per-minute and they need the energy to travel to Central and South America. He said on average the birds weigh 3 ounces and should be 20 to 25 percent larger.

Hummingbirds are harmless to humans, but insects the birds eat are not so fortunate because they serve as a source of protein, Meredith said.

Although the birds may peck at each other, some people really appreciate their beauty.

"I just like to see them fluttering around the wildflowers trying to get nectar," said Carla Ballard Herrschaft.

She said that she replenishes her three feeders twice a day.

The Edna resident shares in the natural spectacle with her grandson, daughter and mother.

"It's a beautiful sight to see," Herrschaft said. "There's nothing else quite like it."

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