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Humingbirdinset webAvon Garden Club’s fall season began with a special guest at the September 5th meeting. Sibby, an injured, flightless Ruby-throated hummingbird, was the featured guest along with his rehabilitator, Melanie Furr, Director of Education, and Atlanta Audubon Society.

Ms. Furr presented photos and a lecture about hummingbirds including such facts as a hummingbird egg is about the size of a jelly bean and an adult hummer normally weighs about the same amount as a copper penny.

The Ruby-throated hummer is the only hummingbird variety that regularly breeds in Georgia, usually producing only two eggs. Other varieties of hummers can be found in Georgia at times during their migration to winter in the southern hemisphere.

In addition to the nectar generally associated with hummingbirds, they also catch and eat small insects for the protein value.

Ms. Furr outlined several steps that homeowners can take to help hummingbirds: use plants with tube-shaped flowers to provide nutrition or use a hummingbird feeder with home-made nectar (use 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water to make inexpensive nectar—don’t use red-dyed commercial nectar), decrease nocturnal light pollution that can confuse flying hummingbirds and cause them to fly into the light and into windows, and avoid using insecticide which reduces the number of insects available for hummers to eat.

Ms. Furr also encouraged members to drink shade-grown coffee which is grown in such a way as to allow adequate habitat for wintering birds in the southern hemisphere.

Why is his gorget an iridescent red at times, and at other times, just a patch of dark feathers?

The little individual feathers that make up the Ruby-throated Hummingbird's gorget are not red at all. They have no pigment or coloration within them.They (sometimes) look red, but the color comes from the shape and microscopic structure of the feathers and how light interacts with those microscopic structures. Just a slight turn of the head/body can make all the difference.