Friday, May 17, 2013

Darya's Anna's Hummingbird

Click to enlarge
Our nine year old granddaughter Darya who lives in Berkeley, California recently sent us a little research she undertook after reading up on Anna's hummingbirds.  Her mother took the pictures and here is the story in Darya's own words.
"While my mom was pruning our Angel's Trumpet tree, she discovered something on the Chinese bell hanging on a low branch. At first she wasn't sure about it, but then she found out it was a hummingbird nest.  In addition to the nest there were two small baby hummingbirds. She called me and my sister over and we looked at it for a while.  I felt excited and happy because last year we had a hummingbird nest in our "fruit salad" tree in the front yard. It's not every day that you see a hummingbird nest in somebody's yard."

"We were excited to show others.  My dad suggested to do some research on the hummingbirds.
I started to chart how long the mother bird fed her babies and how long she was gone between feedings.  Based on what I read, a mother hummingbird spends about twenty minutes between feedings. I decided to put up a hummingbird feeder and test if the time between feedings became shorter. Because hummingbird mothers make a slurry of bugs and nectar to give more protein to their young, my guess was that it would still be around twenty minutes between feedings because she would still have to catch insects."
Researcher recording observations
She sat patiently timing the intervals between feedings and the time in seconds the mother spent in feeding the babies.  She then put up a hummingbird feeder nearby and timed the intervals again, to see the effect of nearby food on intervals between feeding.  As the babies were nearly full grown, she only got to time a few feedings with the feeder present before the babies fledged.  Afterward the mother returned and started salvaging parts of the former nest.  Darya's conclusions follow.
"Our limited observations showed that when the feeder was present the time between feedings was shorter (22 minutes versus 24.2 minutes) but I only got to observe the birds for a few feeding times after we put up the feeder. It's hard to say that if I had watched longer, I might have got different results. It does seem that the average time between feedings I observed was very close to the 20 minutes we read about."

Editor's note:  This study was published entirely on its own merits, ignoring the fact that the author was our granddaughter Darya..... more or less.  The original report is reproduced here.

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