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Ann Stone hosts Third Review Club meeting

Ann Stone hosts Third Review Club meeting

Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:00 pm

The Third Review Club met recently at the family life center of First Baptist Church in Union City.
President Mary Dunavant called the meeting to order.
“This is the day which the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it” was the scriptural thought for the day brought by chaplain Bernice Shore. The roll call was answered with members naming their favorite food type. Minutes of the February meeting were read by secretary Nita Simpson.
New business included the approval of officers for the coming year. The club constitution and by-laws were reviewed. After a brief business meeting, Lindy Dunavant announced the next meeting will be April 13 at the same location. The hostess will be Jean Eaker and the special program. “Salt.” will be presented by Betty Kate Jones. The meeting was then adjourned.
Mary Lois Owens began her presentation on “The Life of Hummingbirds” with a table display of feeders in interesting shapes and sizes, as well as an assortment of food preparations.
Mrs. Owens then told about the existing life of the tiniest birds — the hummingbirds — their appearance; where they live; how they fly; what they eat; their relations with flowers; how they court, build their nests and rear their young; who their enemies are and their prospects for survival. The tiny size and brilliant colors of these birds have made them famous in several ancient and contemporary civilizations, including American Indian cultures and in Central and South American societies. Most of the hummingbirds are found in the tropics. The 341 species of the hummingbirds family are found in the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to the tip of South America. Only 15 species are found in the United States, with the exception of Hawaii, where there are none.
A hummingbird has fewer feathers on its body than any other bird, and it does not have down or a second layer of feathers. Its wings beat at a rate of 200 per minute. It can fly forward or backward; hover in the air with no forward, backward, ascending or descending movement; and can fly upside down. This small bird can fly at speeds up to 30 mph and can travel up to 500 miles without stopping.
The hummingbird is the only bird species with an overlapping bill. The top half of the bill fits over the bottom half as a cover fits onto a box. The bill, which is usually long and narrow, opens up just enough to catch an insect, feed its young or to insert its long bill-shaped tongue into the trumpet of a flower. This tongue is like two tubes drawing in nectar, and it performs this action about 12 times per second. The bird, which weighs three or four grams, must eat more than its weight in food each day. Hummingbirds hover as they feed and prefer red flowers, but will feed on yellow, orange, blue and white. The sweetness of the nectar is important, but if there are no blooms, the bird will feed on insects. Food is stored in a sac in the neck.
Bird feeders are important, not only for human watching pleasure, but also as a much-needed supplemental source for food. Most hummingbirds do not have voices, but create noises with their wings. The noises are pops, thumps, rattles and even whistles and, of course, “hums.”
Hummingbirds are not lifetime mates. To encourage mating, the female is the aggressor. She begins looking for a mate as soon as she starts her nest. The male establishes his own feeding territory, which he uses to attract females. The final stages of the mating will take place in the nesting area. The female will feed the male, but at times he will feed her. The female gets into the nest, where the mating occurs several times that day. The male then leaves in search of another female. The female must hatch, protect and care for the babies until they can fly. As soon as they leave, she will start looking for a new male. After finding a new partner, she will either return to the old nest or construct another. The female usually mates twice a year with two different males. The male bird will mate several times a year.
The hummingbirds’ nests are well constructed of many nesting materials, such as moss, feathers, straw, leaves and twine from spider webs, and they are held together by a saliva-like glue. The eggs are about the size of a jelly bean or navy bean, and their incubation period is about 16 days. In almost every case, only two eggs are laid. Newborns are blind, have no feathers and cannot cry out.
The babies will be fed in the nest for three to four weeks. They must be fed, kept warm and taught to fly.
The minute size and the gem-like appearance of the hummingbird has caused it to be coveted as jewelry and as an adornment for ladies hats. Their trade became an important item of commerce between Europe and tropical America in earlier years. In one year alone, one London dealer imported more than 400,000 dried skins from the West Indies, where most of the lovely species live. There are over 233 species of hummingbirds in South America.
The ruby-throated bird is one of the long-distance migrants. It breeds as far north as Canada and may go to Panama in the winter. Some of the ruby-throated ones cross the Gulf of Mexico, a flight of more than 500 miles. It is one which we see in our area.
Another great traveler is the Rufous, which breeds in Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. It travels 2,000 miles over land to Mexico. This is a long journey for a bird weighing three or four grams.
The enemies of the hummingbirds include the praying mantis and spiders and their webs. A frog will jump up when the bird flies down low to feed on flowers. Hawks, blue jays and other birds will fly down to destroy nests and attack  young birds. The reduction of habitat by man has had unintended consequences on the bird population.
Ann Stone was the hostess. She served dessert with coffee. The room was decorated for St. Patrick’s Day.

Published in The Messenger 3.22.12

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