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Hungry hummingbirds begin staking out territory

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They’ve just flown 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico and they are headed north to your house. And they are hungry.

Hummingbirds return in force in May through June, looking for nectar from flowers and a free handout from neighborhood feeders.

Of the over 320 species of hummingbirds, only 26 are found north of Mexico. After flying across the Gulf, they migrate 20 miles per day.

Their wings flutter 80 times per second, but not in flaps; in a figure eight, which enables them to fly backwards and to hover.

Migrating birds cover thousands of miles in their annual travels and have amazing navigational skills, including by the stars, sensing changes in the earth’s magnetic field, and even by smell.

Even though their brains are the size of a grain of rice, hummingbirds have enough gray matter to know where they nested the year before.

Many return to the same nesting areas, and even the same feeders, on their trip across country.

People may start seeing traveling birds as early as March. These are usually the males on their way to stake out mating territory. During these early weeks, males will actually feed from a feeder at night if the area is well lit.

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