I love watching birds. I love to watch them feed at our birdfeeders in the back yard and I love to sit and watch birds fly. Where I live, we have lots of cardinals, tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, song sparrows, American tree sparrows, house finch, American goldfinch and a number of other birds. But my favorite bird to watch is the hummingbird.

In northern Kentucky there are only three species of hummingbird, the ruby-throated, rufous and green violet-ear. The ruby-throated is the most common hummingbird in our area. Surprisingly, in Arizona where I used to live, there are 18 species of hummingbirds. Only Texas has more than Arizona.

Among the birdfeeders we have at the house, we have a hummingbird feeder filled with a bright red artificial nectar that they love. In fact, they love the red nectar so much that they fight and chase each other for possession and access to the feeder. Believe it or not, hummingbirds are quite aggressive and territorial.

The most amazing thing about hummingbirds is their flying capabilities. I don’t know of any other type of bird that can match the abilities of hummingbirds. They not only fly forward, but they can fly up, down, sideways, backwards and hover motionless in midair. With an average wing beat of 80 beats per second, their wings appear as blurs to our eyes. In order to get really sharp photographs of their wings in action, you have to take your photos at 1/500 or 1/1000 of a second or faster.

Nir Sapir, a biologist at the University of California at Berkeley also loves to watch hummingbirds. He not only loved watching them fly, but became enthralled with the hummingbird’s acrobatic aerial displays and decided to study and analyze their flying abilities.

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