Hummingbirds are the tiniest celebrities of summer

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Tiny, tame and fearless, hummingbirds are the celebrities of summer.

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A female ruby throated hummingbird zooms in on a flower already occupied by a silver spotted skipper butterfly. Female hummers provide labor for nesting and feeding young, with little or no help from the males.  Rob Pavey/Staff
Rob Pavey/Staff
A female ruby throated hummingbird zooms in on a flower already occupied by a silver spotted skipper butterfly. Female hummers provide labor for nesting and feeding young, with little or no help from the males.
Video: Augusta Outdoors
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We start seeing them in late spring, hovering over garden blooms or zig-zagging back and forth in the spray of a lawn sprinkler.

This time of year, Georgia’s only breeding hummer – the ruby throated hummingbird – is already
in its second nesting
phase.

“There are 11 or 12 species seen in the state, but the only one that breeds here is the ruby-throated, which people are seeing right now,” said Georgia Wildlife Resources Division biologist Todd Schneider.

The males are easy to identify because of their
red throat, while females have a whitish-tan throat and iridescent green
back.

“They first arrive in April, or sometimes even in late March, and set up a breeding territory,” he said, noting that the females do all the work – incubating eggs and feeding young – while the males frolic and feed.

Barely 3 inches tall, with wings that move at 55 beats per second, hummingbirds are also the only bird known that can fly backward.

If you want them around your house, commercial feeders can sometimes lure them in, but an abundance of blooming flowers can also be a sure bet.

In Augusta, they are drawn to zinnias, rose of Sharon and other summer favorites. Salvia, in almost any color, will also bring them in.

“They say, for each one you see, there are three or four coming and going that you don’t actually see,” Schneider said.

Later in the year, more hummers will arrive in Georgia.

“By what we think of as fall, we’ll see birds from the North, all the way from southern Canada,” Schneider said.

“They’re a widely distributed species.”

ONE FISH WARNING: Does one dead fish constitute a fish kill?

A bloated, 3-foot catfish found in the Ogeechee River last week prompted a fishing and swimming advisory from the Effingham County Emergency Management Agency.

The Ogeechee was the site of the worst fish kill in Georgia’s history last year, which led to legal proceedings involving a Screven County textile plant over water quality issues.

DUCK NEWS: North America’s spring duck population is the highest ever recorded, according to a report from Delta Waterfowl summarizing the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey.

Conducted each May by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, the survey puts the duck population at 48.6 million birds. That represents a 7 percent increase from 2011’s record number of 45.6 million.


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