The Humingbird Collection

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The iridescent traveler from New England to the Caribbean, the Ruby Throat. Female. Main Street Museum vitrine xxi. 2009.

Description of the Specimen

Hummingbird. Female. Ruby-throated With parasols, lichen, stem of the honey-suckle bush, rose petals, glass beads and eucalyptus.

Hummingbirds are birds in the family Trochilidae. Trochilidae are endemic to the Americas. Breeding habitat is throughout most of eastern North America and the Canadian prairies, in deciduous and pine forests and forest edges, orchards, and gardens. The female builds a nest in a protected location in a shrub or a tree.

They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 15–200 times per second (depending on the species). They can fly backwards, and are the only group of birds able to do so. Their English name derives from the characteristic hum made by their rapid wing beats. They can travel 60 miles per hour.

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. Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute.

Description of the Species

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), is a small hummingbird. It is the only species of hummingbird that regularly nests east of the Mississippi River in North America. A. colubris is migratory, spending most of the winter in southern Mexico, Central America as far south as South America, and the West Indies.

It is often fed from glass or plastic feeders in the backyards of homes.

Hummingbird Moth

The Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) is a species of hawk moth with a long proboscis, and regularly hovers, making an audible humming noise. These two features make it look remarkably like a hummingbird when it feeds on flowers, a result of convergent evolution. It flies during the day, especially in bright sunshine, but also at dusk, dawn, and even in the rain, which is unusual for even diurnal hawkmoths. Its visual abilities have been much studied, and it has been shown to have a relatively good ability to learn colors.

Male Hummingbird

A male was added 2009, Fall. He was found on the porch of a house on South Main Street, White River Junciton. He had flown into the decorative glass panel of the front door of the house. Although limp and still warm when discovered, his neck was broken, and his little wing was sticking out in an unnatural angle.

The resistance of the solid glass was more than equal to the fervency of the desire of the tiny bird to break through to the other side. What causes a hummingbird to do such a thing? Strongly territorial and driven by unknown passions, some believed that he had become infatuated with the play of light on the glassy surface—or perhaps even with his own reflection. But these interpretations seem facile—even disparaging. Love causes inexplicable occurrences to suddenly overwhelm us. Sometimes even, there are catastrophes.

Love locked out may never come again,
Love locked out and weeping bitter tears,
But no one ever hears love calling.

Though we need the precious gift it brings,

We don't heed the song of love it sings,
On the door love beats its tiny wings, Just love locked out.

A world without love is a world without life,

A sad world full of gloom,

So please make a place there for love in your heart,

It does not need much room.

Love is well worth the waiting for,

When it comes knocking at your door,
Fling it wide, for love locked out will come No more, no more.