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Answers From The Hummingbird Expert

Special thanks to Lanny Chambers for providing his time and expertise in responding to your questions.

You're invited to visit his WWW site at:"Hummingbirds"

Hudson Falls Middle School

Q: What are the characteristics that allow a hummingbird to fly stationary? from Emily Doty Ms. Lobb's period 6 class

A: Instead of flapping up and down like other birds' wings, the hummer's wings move in a figure-8 pattern. This lets the wings generate lift on both up and down strokes (actually forward and back in hummingbirds), not just the down stroke like other birds. Thus, they have twice the power to hover.

Q: If there were two males and one female hummingbird, and it was mating season, what do you think would happen? Which male would mate with the one female? from Angela Norton Ms. Lobb's period 5 class

A: The female chooses her mating partners carefully, to get the strongest father's genes for her chicks so they'll have a better chance at survival. We don't know for sure how they choose, but I think she looks for the male that most aggressively defends his feeding territory. So, when you see males chasing each other around your feeder, they're not just being selfish--they're working hard to impress the ladies.

Q: Approximately, how many hours does it take the ruby-throated hummingbird (if its wings beat 4 million times at a rate of 75 mph wing speed) to go from Brookfield, Vermont to Terra del Fuego? Abbegail Therrien Ms. Lobb's period 5 class

A: Is this a math test? I don't like math. It wasn't my best subject... :-)

First, Vermont hummers don't travel to Tierra del Fuego. To Mexico, or perhaps as far as Panama, but no farther south than that in the winter. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird can fly 500 miles (across the Gulf of Mexico) at about 25 MPH; the trip takes 18-20 hours. But over land, they migrate around 20 miles per day, with frequent stops for rest and food. So, to answer your hypothetical question, look up the distance in miles from Brookfield to the tip of South America, divide by 20 (to get the number of days), and multiply by 24. I think. <scratching head>

Belle Plaine

Q:How fast does a hummingbird go in an hour?

A: Their flight speed in migration is about 25 MPH, but some males have been clocked at 63 MPH in dives, during aggression display flights.

Q: How long is a hummingbird's beak?

A: The average adult Ruby-throated Hummingbird's bill is about 17 millimeters long. Some tropical species have much longer bills. They are called "Swordbills," and their bills are longer than the rest of their bodies!

Q: I live in Minnesota. When should I put out my hummingbird feeder? Sara

A: The first birds arrive in the southern part of your state around May 1. They reach the northern counties around May 15. Put your feeder out a week early. You can watch my migration maps to see when they're getting close.Click Here to visit my Hummingbird Website.