Sunday, August 31, 2014


Hi Everybody!!
You may think a headless snake is a bizarre opening photo and you would be correct!  As you know, I have a one leg buzzard who has moved in to the memory garden. I have been feeding birds for many years, but I have never fed the buzzards as they go hunt then return at night. They eat dead animals, not living ones. So this copperhead snake was experiment 104 of what does Cassidy like to eat. I chopped the head off and buried it (like Dad taught me).  Anyway,  I put the fresh dead snake on her picnic table for lunch. She did not eat it. She threw it on the ground. I am marking snake off the menu board for Cassidy. I have shared info below from Wikipedia about copperhead snakes. If you live near or go to woods in the South (States), you really should know about this snake.


Agkistrodon contortrix

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Agkistrodon contortrix is a species of venomous snake endemic to North America, a member of the Crotalinae (pit viper) subfamily. The common name for the species is the copperhead. The behavior of Agkistrodon contortrix may lead to accidental encounters with humans. Five subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.[2]
Agkistrodon contortrix
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Species:A. contortrix
Binomial name
Agkistrodon contortrix
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Agkistrodon contortrix range.png


Detail of head
Adults usually grow to a total length (including tail) of 50–95 cm (20–37 in), although some may exceed 1 m (3.3 ft). Males are usually larger than females. The maximum length reported for this species is 134.6 cm (53.0 in) for A. c. mokasen (Ditmars, 1931). Brimley (1944) mentions a specimen of A. c. mokasen from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that was "four feet, six inches" (137.2 cm), but this may have been an approximation. The maximum length for A. c. contortrix is 132.1 cm (52.0 in) (Conant, 1958).[3]
The body is relatively stout and the head is broad and distinct from the neck. Because the snout slopes down and back, it appears less blunt than that of the cottonmouth, A. piscivorus. Consequently, the top of the head extends further forward than the mouth.[4]
The scalation includes 21–25 (usually 23) rows of dorsal scales at midbody, 138–157 ventral scales in both sexes and 38–62/37–57 subcaudal scalesin males/females. The subcaudals are usually single, but the percentage thereof decreases clinally from the northeast, where about 80% are undivided, to the southwest of the geographic range where as little as 50% may be undivided. On the head there are usually 9 large symmetrical plates, 6–10 (usually 8) supralabial scales and 8–13 (usually 10) sublabial scales.[3]
The color pattern consists of a pale tan to pinkish tan ground color that becomes darker towards the foreline, overlaid with a series of 10–18 (13.4) crossbands. Characteristically, both the ground color and crossband pattern are pale in A. c. contortrix. These crossbands are light tan to pinkish tan to pale brown in the center, but darker towards the edges. They are about 2 scales wide or less at the midline of the back, but expand to a width of 6–10 scales on the sides of the body. They do not extend down to the ventral scales. Often, the crossbands are divided at the midline and alternate on either side of the body, with some individuals even having more half bands than complete ones. A series of dark brown spots is also present on the flanks, next to the belly, and are largest and darkest in the spaces between the crossbands. The belly is the same color as the ground color, but may be a little whitish in part. At the base of the tail there are 1–3 (usually 2) brown crossbands followed by a gray area. In juveniles, the pattern on the tail is more distinct: 7–9 crossbands are visible, while the tip is yellow. On the head, the crown is usually unmarked, except for a pair of small dark spots, one near the midline of each parietal scale. A faint postocular stripe is also present; diffuse above and bordered below by a narrow brown edge.[4]
Several aberrant color patterns for A. c. contortrix, or populations that intergrade with it, have also been reported. In a specimen described by Livezey (1949) from Walker County, Texas, 11 of 17 crossbands were not joined middorsally, while on one side three of the crossbands were fused together longitudinally to form a continuous undulating band, surmounted above by a dark stripe that was 2–2.5 scales wide. In another specimen, fromLowndes County, Alabama, the first three crossbands were complete, followed by a dark stripe that ran down either side of the body, with points of pigment reaching up to the midline in six places but never getting there, after which the last four crossbands on the tail were also complete. A specimen found in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana by Ernest A. Liner, had a similar striped pattern, with only the first and last two crossbands being normal.[4]

Common names[edit]

Common names for A. contortrix include: copperhead (snake), chunk head, death adder,[citation needed] highland moccasin, (dry-land) moccasin, narrow-banded copperhead, northern copperhead, pilot snake, poplar leaf, red oak, red snake, southeastern copperhead, white oak snake,[5]American copperhead,[6] southern copperhead,[4] and cantil cobrizo (Spanish).[2]

Geographic range[edit]

It is found in the United States in the states of AlabamaArkansasConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentucky,LouisianaOhioOklahomaMarylandMassachusettsMississippiMissouriNew JerseyNew YorkNorth CarolinaPennsylvaniaSouth Carolina,TennesseeTexasVirginia and West Virginia. In Mexico, it occurs in Chihuahua and Coahuila. The type locality is "Carolina". Schmidt (1953) proposed the type locality be restricted to "Charleston, South Carolina".[1]
Unlike some other species of North American pit vipers, such as Crotalus horridus and Sistrurus catenatusAgkistrodon contortrix has not reestablished itself north of the terminal moraine after the last glacial period (the Wisconsin glaciation),[7] except it is found in southeastern New York State and southern New England, an area north of Long Island (the terminal moraine of the Wisconsin glaciation).


Within its range it occupies a variety of different habitats. In most of North America it favors deciduous forest and mixed woodlands. It is often associated with rock outcroppings and ledges, but is also found in low-lying swampy regions. During the winter it hibernates in dens, in limestone crevices, often together with Timber Rattlesnakes and Black Rat Snakes. In the states around the Gulf of Mexico, however, this species is also found inconiferous forest. In the Chihuahuan Desert of west Texas and northern Mexico, it occurs in riparian habitats, usually near permanent or semipermanent water and sometimes in dry arroyos (brooks).[3]

Conservation status[edit]

This species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (v3.1, 2001).[8] Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. The population trend was stable when assessed in 2007.[9]


Southern copperhead, A. c. contortrix, at the southern limit of its range, in Liberty Co., Florida, camouflaged in dead leaves
Like all pit vipersA. contortrix is generally an ambush predator: it takes up a promising position and waits for suitable prey to arrive. One exception to ambush foraging occurs when copperheads feed on insects such as caterpillars and freshly molted cicadas. When hunting insects, copperheads actively pursue their prey.[10] Juveniles use a brightly colored tail to attract frogs and perhaps lizards, a behavior termed caudal luring (see video: [1]). In the southern United States, they are nocturnal during the hot summer months, but are commonly active during the day during the spring and fall.
Like most North American viperids, these snakes prefer to avoid humans and, given the opportunity, will leave the area without biting. However, unlike other viperids they will often "freeze" instead of slithering away, and as a result many bites occur from people unknowingly stepping on or near them.[11] This tendency to freeze most likely evolved because of the extreme effectiveness of their camouflage. When lying on dead leaves or red clay, they can be almost impossible to notice. They will frequently stay still even when approached closely, and will generally strike only if physical contact is made.


Roughly 90% of its diet consists of small rodents, such as mice and voles. They have also shown fondness for large insects and frogs, and though highly terrestrial, have been known to climb trees to gorge on emerging cicadas.


A. contortrix breeds in late summer, but not every year: sometimes a female will produce young for several years running, then not breed at all for a time. They give birth to live young, each of which is about 20 cm (7.9 in) in total length. The typical litter size is 4 to 7, but there can be as few as one, or as many as 20. Their size apart, the young are similar to the adults, but lighter in color, and with a yellow-marked tip to the tail, which is used to lure lizards and frogs.
A study has shown that A. contortrix males have longer tongue tine lengths than females during the breeding season which may aid in chemoreception of males searching for females.[12]


Although venomous, these snakes are generally not aggressive and bites are rarely fatal.[citation needed] Copperhead venom has an estimated lethal dose of around 100 mg, and tests on mice show its potency is among the lowest of all pit vipers, and slightly weaker than that of its close relative, the cottonmouth.[citation needed] Copperheads often employ a "warning bite" when stepped on or agitated and inject a relatively small amount of venom, if any at all. "Dry bites" involving no venom are particularly common with the copperhead, though all pit vipers are capable of a dry bite.[citation needed]
Bite symptoms include extreme pain, tingling, throbbing, swelling, and severe nausea. Damage can occur to muscle and bone tissue, especially when the bite occurs in the outer extremities such as the hands and feet, areas in which there is not a large muscle mass to absorb the venom. A bite from any venomous snake should be taken very seriously and immediate medical attention sought, as allergic reaction and secondary infection are always possible.
The venom of the southern copperhead has been found to hold a protein called "contortrostatin" that halts the growth of cancer cells in mice and also stops the migration of the tumors to other sites.[13] However, this is an animal model, and further testing is required to verify safety and efficacy in humans.[14]
Although technically the antivenin CroFab could be used to treat an envenomation, it is usually not administered for copperheads, as the risk of complications of an allergic reaction to the treatment are greater than the risk from the snakebite itself in most cases. The antivenin can cause an immune reaction called serum sickness, which can consist of bouts of flu like symptoms for 1-12 months. Pain management, antibiotics, and medical supervision in the case of complications is usually the course of action.[15] In 2002, an Illinois poison control center report on the availability of antivenin stated it used 1 Acp to 5 Acp depending on the symptoms and circumstances. The symptoms of a mild envenomation include swelling of the hand, mild cellulitis, and respiratory distress. The symptoms of a moderate envenomation would include swelling of the hand, vomiting, mild bleeding, ecchymosisdiaphoresissinus tachycardia, and hypotensia.[16]



link to G+ photo albums:

...this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek.  See you next time! If you venture into the southern woods, watch out for the copperheads.


Saturday, August 30, 2014


Hi Everybody!!
When was the last time you took time to watch the sun set? In today's busy world, people spend more time inside than out. I would like to remind you to take time for just you. Allow yourself to have some moments outdoors in reflection of the sinking sun. One thing you might become of aware of is how small you really are. The thought on your mind of how important something else is, turns out to be even smaller. We all have and need a connection to the sun. The sun's light and heat are the source of all life on earth. It is a great reward to stand in the essence of the golden light! Enjoy!!

Link to My G+ Photo Album Gallery:



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sunset or sundown is the daily disappearance of the Sun below the horizon, as a result of Earth's rotation.
The time of sunset is defined in astronomy as the moment when the trailing edge of the Sun's disk disappears below the horizon. The ray path oflight from the setting Sun is highly distorted near the horizon because of atmospheric refraction, making the sunset appear to occur when the Sun’s disk is already about one diameter below the horizon. Sunset is distinct from dusk, which is the time at which the sky becomes completely dark, which occurs when the Sun is approximately eighteen degrees below the horizon. The period between sunset and dusk is called twilight.
Locations north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle experience no sunset or sunrise at least one day of the year, when the polar day or the polar night persists continuously for 24 hours.
Sunset creates unique atmospheric conditions such as the often intense orange and red colors of the Sun and the surrounding sky.

The Sun, about a minute before sunset


See also: Analemma

The time of sunset varies throughout the year, and is determined by the viewer's position on Earth, specified by longitude and latitude, and elevation. Small daily changes and noticeable semi-annual changes in the timing of sunsets are driven by the axial tilt of Earth, daily rotation of the Earth, the planet's movement in its annual elliptical orbit around the Sun, and the Earth and Moon's paired revolutions around each other. During winter and spring, the days get longer and sunsets occur later every day until the day of the latest sunset, which occurs after the summer solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, the latest sunset occurs late in June or in early July, but not on the summer solstice of June 21. This date depends on the viewer's latitude (connected with the Earth's slower movement around the aphelionaround July 4). Likewise, the earliest sunset does not occur on the winter solstice, but rather about two weeks earlier, again depending on the viewer's latitude. In the Northern Hemisphere, it occurs in early December or late November (influenced by the Earth's faster movement near itsperihelion, which occurs around January 3).
Likewise, the same phenomenon exists in the Southern Hemisphere, but with the respective dates reversed, with the earliest sunsets occurring some time before June 21 in winter, and latest sunsets occurring some time after December 21 in summer, again depending on one's southern latitude. For a few weeks surrounding both solstices, both sunrise and sunset get slightly later each day. Even on the equator, sunrise and sunset shift several minutes back and forth through the year, along with solar noon. These effects are plotted by an analemma.[2][3]
Neglecting atmospheric refraction and the Sun's non-zero size, whenever and wherever sunset occurs, it is always in the northwest quadrant from the March equinox to the September equinox, and in the southwest quadrant from the September equinox to the March equinox. Sunsets occur almost exactly due west on the equinoxes for all viewers on Earth. Exact calculations of the azimuths of sunset on other dates are complex, but they can be estimated with reasonable accuracy by using the analemma.
As sunrise and sunset are calculated from the leading and trailing edges of the Sun, and not the center, the duration of a day time is slightly longer than night time (by about 10 minutes, as seen from temperate latitudes). Further, because the light from the Sun is refracted as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere, the Sun is still visible after it is geometrically below the horizon. Refraction also affects the apparent shape of the Sun when it is very close to the horizon. It makes things appear higher in the sky than they really are. Light from the bottom edge of the Sun's disk is refracted more than light from the top, since refraction increases as the angle of elevation decreases. This raises the apparent position of the bottom edge more than the top, reducing the apparent height of the solar disk. Its width is unaltered, so the disk appears wider than it is high. (In reality, the Sun is almost exactly spherical.) The Sun also appears larger on the horizon, an optical illusion, similar to the moon illusion.
Locations north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle experience no sunset or sunrise at least one day of the year, when the polar day or the polar night persist continuously for 24 hours.


Evening Twilight in Knysna, South Africa, displaying the separation of orange colors in the direction from the Sun below the Horizon to the observer; and the blue components scattered from the surrounding sky.
As a ray of white sunlight travels through the atmosphere to an observer, some of the colors are scattered out of the beam by air molecules andairborne particles, changing the final color of the beam the viewer sees. Because the shorter wavelength components, such as blue and green, scatter more strongly, these colors are preferentially removed from the beam.[4] At sunrise and sunset, when the path through the atmosphere is longer, the blue and green components are removed almost completely leaving the longer wavelength orange and red hues we see at those times. The remaining reddened sunlight can then be scattered by cloud droplets and other relatively large particles to light up the horizon red and orange.[5] The removal of the shorter wavelengths of light is due to Rayleigh scattering by air molecules and particles much smaller than the wavelength of visible light (less than 50 nm in diameter).[6][7] The scattering by cloud droplets and other particles with diameters comparable to or larger than the sunlight's wavelengths (> 600 nm) is due to Mie scattering and is not strongly wavelength-dependent. Mie scattering is responsible for the light scattered by clouds, and also for the daytime halo of white light around the Sun (forward scattering of white light). Without Mie scattering at sunset and sunrise, the sky along the horizon has only a dull-reddish appearance, while the rest of the sky remains mostly blue and sometimes green.[8][9][10]
Sunset colors are typically more brilliant than sunrise colors, because the evening air contains more particles than morning air.[4][5][7][10]
Ash from volcanic eruptions, trapped within the troposphere, tends to mute sunset and sunrise colors, while volcanic ejecta that is instead lofted into the stratosphere (as thin clouds of tiny sulfuric acid droplets), can yield beautiful post-sunset colors called afterglows and pre-sunrise glows. A number of eruptions, including those of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and Krakatoa in 1883, have produced sufficiently high stratospheric sulfuric acid clouds to yield remarkable sunset afterglows (and pre-sunrise glows) around the world. The high altitude clouds serve to reflect strongly reddened sunlight still striking the stratosphere after sunset, down to the surface.
Sometimes just before sunrise or after sunset a green flash can be seen.[11]

Names of compass points[edit]

In some languages, points of the compass bear names etymologically derived from words for sunrise and sunset. The English words "orient" and "occident", meaning "east" and "west", respectively, are descended from Latin words meaning "sunrise" and "sunset". The word "levant", related e.g. to French "(se) lever" meaning "lift" or "rise" (and also to English "elevate"), is also used to describe the east. In Polish, the word for east wschód (vskhud), is derived from the morpheme "ws" – meaning "up", and "chód" – signifying "move" (from the verb chodzić – meaning "walk, move"), due to the act of the Sun coming up from behind the horizon. The Polish word for westzachód (zakhud), is similar but with the word "za" at the start, meaning "behind", from the act of the Sun going behind the horizon. In Russian, the word for west, запад (zapad), is derived from the words за – meaning "behind", and пад – signifying "fall" (from the verb падать – padat'), due to the act of the Sun falling behind the horizon.

...this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek. See You next time! Try to view some sunsets to stay connected to the outdoor world.


Friday, August 29, 2014


Hi Everybody!!
Within the dark shadows, you find the sweetest light! Time for an update on the Hummingbird Migration 2014 from my location in S. Texas.  I counted over 50 this morning! These numbers are down from last year, but I am hopeful more will come in. Again this year, the honeybees are migrating with the birds. The bees have adapted very well to the hummer feeders. Be prepared if you hang feeders that bees are just as likely to come eat. You can not kill the bees while trying to save the birds, so consider your options. I have made friends with the bees and they do not sting me. The hummers and honeys have developed a strange relationship due to human nectar feeders. I am attempting to catch the behaviors in the camera as they fly at warp speed! Today's photostudy was captured at the first of August when the count was 4 and the light was low. Enjoy!

Link to Photo Album:

A color plate illustration from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur(1899), showing a variety of hummingbirds.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hummingbirds are New World birds that constitute the family Trochilidae. They are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) range. Indeed, the smallest extant bird species is a hummingbird, the 5-cm bee hummingbird, weighing less than a U.S. zinc penny(about 2.5g).
They are known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air at rapid wing flapping rates, typically around 50 times per second,[1] but possibly as high as 200 times per second, allowing them also to fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (54 km/h; 34 mph),[2] backwards or upside down.[3][4]
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of any homeothermic animal.[5] To conserve energy when food is scarce, they have the ability to go into a hibernation-like state (torpor) where their metabolic rate is slowed to 1/15th of its normal rate.[6]

Specialized characteristics and metabolism[edit]

With the exception of insects, hummingbirds while in flight have the highest metabolism of all animals, a necessity in order to support the rapid beating of their wings during hovering and fast forward flight.[12][5] Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute, a rate once measured in a blue-throated hummingbird,[13] with a breathing rate of 250 breaths per minute, even at rest.[14] During flight, oxygen consumption per gram of muscle tissue in a hummingbird is approximately 10 times higher than that seen for elite human athletes.[5]
Hummingbirds consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers daily. Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight.[15]
Hummingbirds are rare among vertebrates in their ability to rapidly make use of ingested sugars to fuel energetically expensive hovering flight, powering up to 100% of their metabolic needs with the sugars they drink (in comparison, human athletes max out at around 30%). One study[16] showed that hummingbirds can use newly ingested sugars to fuel hovering flight within 30–45 minutes of consumption.[17] These data suggest that hummingbirds are able to oxidize sugar in flight muscles at rates high enough to satisfy their extreme metabolic demands. By relying on newly ingested sugars to fuel flight, hummingbirds can reserve their limited fat stores to sustain them overnight fasting or to power migratory flights.[16]
The dynamic range of metabolic rates in hummingbirds[18] requires a corresponding dynamic range in kidney function.[19] The glomerulus is a cluster of capillaries in the nephrons of the kidney that removes certain substances from the blood, like a filtration mechanism. The rate at which blood is processed is called the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Most often these fluids are reabsorbed by the kidneys. GFR also slows when a bird is undergoing water deprivation. The interruption of GFR is a survival and physiological mechanism unique to hummingbirds.[19]
Studies of hummingbirds' metabolisms are relevant to the question of how a migrating ruby-throated hummingbird can cross 800 km (500 mi) of the Gulf of Mexico on a nonstop flight.[14] This hummingbird, like other birds preparing to migrate, stores fat as a fuel reserve, thereby augmenting its weight by as much as 100% and hence increasing potential flying time over open water.[20][14]


Hummingbirds are capable of slowing their metabolism at night or any time food is not readily available, entering a hibernation-like, deep sleep state known as torpor needed to prevent energy reserves from falling to a critical level. During nighttime torpor, body temperature falls from 40oC to 18oC,[21] with heart and breathing rates both slowed dramatically (heart rate to roughly 50 to 180 beats per minute from its daytime rate of higher than 1000).[22]
During torpor, to prevent dehydration, the kidney glomerular filtration rate ceases, preserving needed compounds like glucose as a source of fuel, water and nutrients.[19] Further, body mass declines throughout nocturnal torpor at a rate of 0.04 g per hour, amounting to about 10% of weight loss each night.[19] The circulating hormonecorticosterone, is one signal that arouses a hummingbird from torpor.[23]
Use and duration of torpor vary among hummingbird species and are affected by whether a dominant bird defends territory, with non-territorial subordinate birds having longer periods of torpor.[24]


Hummingbirds have long lifespans for organisms with such rapid metabolisms. Though many die during their first year of life, especially in the vulnerable period between hatching and leaving the nest (fledging), those that survive may live a decade or more. Among the better-known North American species, the average lifespan is probably 3 to 5 years. By comparison, the smallershrews, among the smallest of all mammals, seldom live more than 2 years.[25] The longest recorded lifespan in the wild is that of a female broad-tailed hummingbird that was banded (ringed) as an adult at least one year old, then recaptured 11 years later, making her at least 12 years old. Other longevity records for banded hummingbirds include an estimated minimum age of 10 years 1 month for a female black-chinned similar in size to the broad-tailed, and at least 11 years 2 months for a much larger buff-bellied hummingbird.[26]

Diet and specializations for food gathering[edit]

Green violetear at a flower.
Hummingbird in Copiapó, Chile
Hummingbirds drink nectar, a sweet liquid inside certain flowers. Like bees, they are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat; they normally reject flower types that produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is higher. Nectar is a mixture of glucosefructose, and sucrose, and is a poor source of nutrients, so hummingbirds meet their needs for proteinamino acidsvitamins,minerals, etc. by preying on insects and spiders.[56]
Hummingbird bill shapes vary dramatically, as an adaptation for specialized feeding. Some species, such as hermits (Phaethornis spp.) have bills that are long allowing them to probe deep into flowers that have a long corolla. Thornbills have short, sharp bills adapted for feeding from flowers with short corollas and piercing the bases of longer ones. The sicklebills' extremely decurved bills are adapted to extracting nectar from the curved corollas of flowers in the familyGesneriaceae. The bill of the fiery-tailed awlbill has an upturned tip, as in the avocets. The male tooth-billed hummingbird has barracuda-like spikes at the tip of its long, straight bill.
The two halves of a hummingbird's bill have a pronounced overlap, with the lower half (mandible) fitting tightly inside the upper half (maxilla). When hummingbirds feed on nectar, the bill is usually opened only slightly, allowing the tongue to dart out and into the interior of flowers.
Hummingbirds drink with their tongue by rapidly lapping nectar. Their tongues have tubes which run down their lengths and help the hummingbirds drink the nectar. While it had been believed that capillary action was what drew nectar into these tubes, high-speed photography has revealed that the tubes open down their sides as the tongue goes into the nectar, and then close around the nectar, trapping it so it can be pulled back into the beak.[57][58] Consequently, tongue flexibility enables accessing, transporting and unloading nectar.[59]
Hummingbirds do not spend all day flying, as the energy cost would be prohibitive; the majority of their activity consists simply of sitting or perching. Hummingbirds eat many small meals and consume approximately half their weight in pure sugar (twice their weight in nectar, if the nectar is 25% sugar) each day.[60] Hummingbirds digest their food rapidly due to their small size and high metabolism; a mean retention time (MRT) of less than an hour has been reported.[61] Hummingbirds spend an average of 10–15% of their time feeding and 75–80% sitting and digesting.
Because they starve so easily, hummingbirds are highly attuned to food sources. Some species, including many found in North America, are territorial and will try to guard food sources (such as a feeder) against other hummingbirds, attempting to ensure a future food supply for itself.

Feeders and artificial nectar[edit]

Hummingbirds will either hover or perch to feed; red feeders are preferred, but colored liquid is not necessary.
In the wild, hummingbirds visit flowers for food, extracting nectar, which is 55% sucrose, 24% glucose and 21% fructose.[62] Hummingbirds will also take sugar-water from bird feeders. Such feeders allow people to observe and enjoy hummingbirds up close while providing the birds with a reliable source of energy, especially when flower blossoms are less abundant. A negative aspect of artificial feeders, however, is that the birds may seek less flower nectar for food, and so reduce the amount of pollination their feeding naturally provides.[63]
White granulated sugar is the best sweetener to use in hummingbird feeders. A ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water (20% sugar) is a common recipe,[64]although hummingbirds will defend feeders more aggressively when sugar content is at 35%, indicating preference for nectar with higher sweetness and sugar content.[65] Boiling and then cooling this mixture before use has been recommended to help deter the growth of bacteria and fungi. Powdered sugars contain corn starch as an anti-caking agent which can contribute to premature fermentation of the solution. Brown, turbinado, and "raw" sugars contain iron, which can be deadly to hummingbirds if consumed over long periods.[66] Honey is made by bees from the nectar of flowers, but it is not good to use in feeders because when it is diluted with water, microorganisms easily grow in it, causing it to spoil rapidly.[67][68][69]
Red food dye is often added to homemade solutions, however is not necessary and may be harmful to the birds. Commercial products sold as "instant nectar" or "hummingbird food" may also contain preservatives and/or artificial flavors as well as dyes. The long-term effects of these additives on hummingbirds have not been studied.[70] Although some commercial products contain small amounts of nutritional additives, hummingbirds obtain all necessary nutrients from the insects they eat. This renders the added nutrients unnecessary in most situations.[52]

Hummingbirds hovering at an artificial nectar feeder
Other animals also visit hummingbird feeders. Bees, wasps, and ants are attracted to the sugar-water and may crawl into the feeder, where they may become trapped and drown. Orioleswoodpeckersbananaquits, and other larger animals are known to drink from hummingbird feeders, sometimes tipping them and draining the liquid.[71] In the southwestern United States, two species of nectar-drinking bats (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae andChoeronycteris mexicana) visit hummingbird feeders to supplement their natural diet of nectar and pollen from saguaro cacti and agaves.[72]

...this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek.  See you next time! Remember to put out water for your wildlife!