A Charm of Hummingbirds

Hey, it’s better than a murder of crows.

WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY PETER MOORE

WHAT’S THE BUZZ? A charm of hummingbirds, of course. That’s what you call hummers when they gather in groups. And the more of those charms, the better. These jewel-like birds are pollinators, they keep the chickadees in line, and they beat their wings 53 times per second, on average.

Plus they’re so damn cute.

If Leo Tolstoy had written 53 words per second, he would have completed War and Peace in a little over three hours. Maybe if I drank hummingbird nectar (4:1 water to sugar ratio) my jokes-per-minute would improve?

Not so sure it would help my drawings, however. And I’ve never seen any good illustrations by hummingbirds.

Random hummingbird fact #1: They drink twice their bodyweight in nectar every day. For me to match their intake, I’d have to drink 2,400 pints of sugar water a day. Which wouldn’t leave much time to write/draw/paint.

Hummingbirds do excel at many other things, including:

Aerial battles amongst themselves. We have two hummingbird feeders with a total of ten ports, plus five hummingbird-friendly hyssop plants, each with perhaps 200 blossoms. And yet, our hummers fight one another for territory as if this were the Battle of Britain, with the fate of western civilization at stake.

And maybe it is!

Random hummingbird fact #2: They are the only birds that can fly backward, forward, sideways, upside down, and hover. Which is great if you’re a WW1 Flying Ace, like Snoopy.

When they’re not messing with each other, they’re messing with bigger birds. Challenging part, if you’re a hummer: They’re all bigger birds. You have to bring the attitude.

Random hummingbird fact #3: Their brain weight/bodyweight ratio is the biggest in the bird world. Which may be why hummingbirds attack other birds: They’re annoyed by their stupidity.

After all of these internecine battles, and dangerous inter-species bullying, hummingbirds all fly to Mexico (or other warm places) in mid September, fueled mostly by sugar water. Time to convert from fossil fuels to Domino.

Random hummingbird fact #4: From Alaska to Mexico is 3,000 miles — one helluva commute for a 2.5” bird.

Why do hummingbirds hum? When my son was six, a medical doctor posed that riddle to him. Our toddler was the first ever to deliver the correct (joke) answer: “Because they don’t know the words.” We knew he was destined for great things.

Random hummingbird fact #5: Actually, the humming sound comes from their wing tips, which vibrate in the air. Don’t tell my son!

Bon voyage, little ones! See you next April!

Everybody knows somebody who loves hummingbirds. Airmail this to them!

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