The Saga Of Henrietta, The Broad-tail Hummingbird

| 2/2/2018 9:49:00 AM

Tags: hummingbirds, Bruce McElmurray, Colorado,


Early History

Most good stories start at the beginning and our story of a special broad-tailed hummingbird starts when she was very young and Carol found her almost frozen in a pile of snow in the backyard. She took the little bird and warmed her in her hand and was able to revive her. She must have flown into something because when she was revived she had what appeared to be tremors which she carried her entire long life. That is how we could identify her among all the the other female broad-tails. We put out 3-4 feeders each summer and attract up to approximately  50 birds including Henrietta (our name for her).

Henrietta - First To Arrive, Last To Leave:

We observe the hummingbirds while they are visiting us because the feeders are right outside the window. We generally attract broad-tails, rufus and the black-chinned species. This story is a overview of the characteristics of hummingbirds but especially about Henrietta. We live in Southern Colorado and broad-tails migrate each year to Mexico, Guatemala and some as far as El Salvador. We know that Henrietta made that trip at least 12 years and each year she returned to the exact feeder, exact port on the feeder and was first to arrive. If the feeder was not up she would come get one of us and hover in front of us until we put the feeder out. To me migrating that far and returning to the same feeder that many years accurately is mind boggling.

Henrietta A Perfectly Designed Small Bird:

Henrietta, like most hummingbirds, had excellent sight and could see all the colors we see plus she could process ultraviolet light. Her hearing was acute and we firmly believe she even recognized her given name. When I would walk past the feeder I would tell her I was just passing by and she stayed at her station while the other hummingbirds flew off. Hummingbirds have excellent memories and can remember each flower they visit and when to go back to it for more nectar. The hummingbirds brain is about 4.2% of its body weight (humans about 2%) which allows them to return to the exact same spot year after year. Henrietta was no exception.  

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