Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do Hummingbirds Dream?

Finally, a morning when we can get up and relax! I guess we've gotten a lot lazier since retirement. It's a good thing to push yourself once in a while. Not too often, mind you, but it does make us more appreciative of our free time.

Once again, we have hummingbirds. They just seem to love Cholula Red and we always try to put out the feeders to accommodate them.

Every once in a while, we get a hummingbird who has slept on one of our feeders. This is known as a state of torpor.

Their little bodies have such high demands that when they need to sleep or keep warm, they go into a sort of hibernation state. They puff up their feathers to create an insulation from the cold. Then they slowly lower their breathing rate from a normal 250 heartbeats per minute down to some 50 beats per minute. This conserves their energy.

When it's time to awaken, they slowly start to vibrate their muscles, once every minute or so, till slowly, they come back to full activity. This can take anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes.

During a state of torpor and the accompanying awakening, the hummingbird is most prone to attack by predators.

This morning,
we found a hummingbird
on our feeder
in a state of torpor.
You'll notice that he's resting, not on the crossbar, but on the curved piece that holds the cross bar. I'm assuming he felt this was a safer, more snug perch.

As the morning progressed, the other hummingbirds decided it was time to feed.

Were they going to let
one of their sleeping brethren
keep them from their nectar?

I guess not.

Since he's hogging the perch,
I guess they figured
it was okay
to use him as a perch.
Geez, how rude!

Good thing
he's snuggled in there
good and tight!

In just a few more minutes,
he was awake.
He started feeding,
and then he flew away.

Life can be brutal
when you're a hummingbird . . .

I'm sure glad nobody
uses my head as a chair
when I'm sleeping!

Count your blessings.


photowannabe said...

Great story Kate. The hummingbirds are so amazing. The torpor state isn't photographed very often...lucky you!

Suzanne LD Wannabe said...

What an amazing picture. He looks so happy. I had no idea about the torpor state. Mine hardly stay long enough to feed. I guess I'm in a rough hummingbird neighborhood. Lots of predators to look out for.