Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Say hello to my leetle friend.

He didn't stay long. The first one to stop here each spring only stays long enough to tank up. After two or three days of rest and refueling, the first hummingbird of the year disappears as suddenly as it appears, headed further north. Last year, the first ruby-throated hummingbird arrived at the feeder in my backyard on the 15th of March. This year it was the 17th. Last year the first bird was an immature male; this year a mature male. Same bird? No way of knowing, but I like to think so. If last year is any indication, I won't see any more hummingbirds for several more weeks.

That first bird is the leader of a migration no less amazing than any on earth. The tiny feathered helicopters that show up here in the middle of the Florida panhandle have probably flown non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula. Living for several years, a hummingbird will return to the same backyard feeders spring after spring and then return to a patch of jungle in Central or South America to spend the winter.

Wonder if the resident Yucatan tucans call the winter whizzers "snow birds."
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