Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico - We love the return of the hummingbirds to Puerto Vallarta. They are magical little creatures who begin to appear when they migrate south for the winter. This long journey has taken place for hundreds of years and begins in August from as far away as the Yukon, where sunshine and flora attract the little birds for a few months of the year.
There are so many species of hummingbirds; it's said there are millions, but the most recognizable and often sighted in Puerto Vallarta is the Rufous Hummingbird. They can show up on our patios in July, though the largest population usually arrive here in Vallarta a couple of months later.
The Rufous Hummingbird is the little guy who looks like he got to the paint bucket right before the Robin, and got the best of the coppery red color that covers most of his body for the exception of a white ring around his neck. The Rufous Hummingbird is very aggressive towards other potential visitors and we have noticed them taking on much larger birds in defense of the both the sugary fluid we offer and the petals in our garden.
Their flight south to places like Puerto Vallarta normally takes an entire day of flying, through night and inclement weather. The trip often takes them over large bodies of water, traversing mountains, and facing predators, so they are pretty hungry when they arrive. We find them nourishing themselves to the point we can fill our containers two or three times a day, and check in the morning to find them empty again.
To get an idea of how hummingbirds feed, we watched videos and suggest you do, as well. They do not feed with their long beaks. They have lengthy tongues that shoot out, approximately 12 times per second and suck nectar from flowers and your feeders. On a daily basis they consume twice their body weight, and have the highest metabolism of all the warm blooded animals on earth. A high calorie diet is essential to their existence.
Since hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, most feeders on the market are this color and we have seen them in many of the local stores, such as Soriana and Wal-Mart in Puerto Vallarta. Make sure you never use red food coloring to attract them. It's not just harmful but can be deadly, in that it does something to the biological makeup of tiny hummingbird eggshells. They will be too hard for the wee birds to peck their way out and hence, there will be less of them to grace our gardens.
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