The Oklahoman

Tiny hummingbir­ds must surmount huge obstacles

- Neil Garrison Special to The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

If I were a bird (which I am not) and if I could fly (which I can’t), I’d leave Oklahoma at summer’s end and head on down to Mexico. Hummingbir­ds can do just that. They over-winter south of the Gulf of Mexico.

Some people cling to the silly notion that they hitch a ride on the backs of southbound swans. Let me assure you, they do no such thing.

If, instead, you deduced they leapfrog from one flower garden to the next all the way around the perimeter of that huge expanse of salt water, you, too, would be in error.

The truth of the matter is that they fly directly across the Gulf of Mexico. No small feat, that!

It is quite a task to be accomplish­ed by a bird of such small stature and with a blast furnace metabolism that burns up calories at a rapid pace.

Neverthele­ss, it is true.

Facts are sometimes stranger than fiction.

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center. His email is atlatlgarr­ison@hotmail.com.

 ?? CALIFORNIA­DFW/ FLICKR ?? A rubythroat­ed hummingbir­d hovers next to a flower while seeking nectar.
CALIFORNIA­DFW/ FLICKR A rubythroat­ed hummingbir­d hovers next to a flower while seeking nectar.

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