Kathy is a freelance writer for Textbroker and Constant Content and a published author in Neon Rainbow Magazine.
Hummingbirds? In Vegas?
I was surprised to see hummingbirds in our yard when we first moved to Las Vegas. I thought they were located more in the Midwest and along the East Coast, but I was happy to learn that they are all over the United States! The most common hummingbird found here in southern Nevada is the black-chinned hummingbird.
There are four main species found in Las Vegas, they are the Anna's hummingbird, Costa's hummingbird, the black-chinned hummingbird, and the broad-tailed hummingbird. Two of these, the Anna's and Costa's are here year-round, the other two are summer visitors.
Now after seeing pictures of hummingbirds, I decided that the ones we saw in our backyard feeder were most likely the broad-tailed ones. Their pictures looked the most similar to the ones we saw.
Hummingbirds are absolutely fascinating birds to watch! We kept seeing them because we have two bushes with bright red flowers in our yard. After doing some research, I found out that they are most attracted to bright red, pink, and orange flowers. They seemed to love our flowers, so we decided to put a feeder out back.
Later in the summer, we planted a bush that yields bright orange, trumpet-shaped flowers, and that one also attracts hummingbirds. Plus, the flowers are beautiful to look at!
Hummingbirds Are Fun and Interesting to Watch
It has been fascinating watching them whenever they decide to visit our feeder. I found out that hummingbirds range in size from 3 to 5 inches. I also discovered that they flap their wings an amazing average of 53 times per second! The largest hummingbirds flap them 10 to 15 times per second, but the smaller ones average 53 times. The very smallest ones can even flap their wings an astounding 80 times per second! You probably would have trouble telling that just by looking at them. I would think it would be too fast for our eyes to even see.
When they flap their wings, they make a "figure 8" shape, this helps provide lift in both directions so they can appear to stop in midair to sip nectar. Their wings appear to be "iridescent" because of refraction of light that happens when the light hits their wings. Certain feathers will "split" the light into component colors, and only certain colors are refracted back to us as we watch them... giving them an iridescent look when viewed by our eyes.
Hummingbirds have VERY fast heartbeats, the fastest being recorded from a blue-throated hummingbird, an amazing 1,260 beats per minute! They also have the highest metabolism of all animals. When they feed, they have many small meals, and can eat up to 12 times their body weight in nectar per day! Amazingly, only about 10 to 15% of their time is spent eating, and about 75 to 80% of their time is spent sitting and digesting food. Nectar is not a great source of nutrients, so they supplement this by also eating insects and spiders.
Altogether, there are about 356 species of hummingbirds. Early European settlers thought that they were a cross between insects and birds. It was found that Columbus even wrote about seeing hummingbirds. A couple of myths persisted years ago about them because they weren't seen much during the winter months. It was believed that in Autumn hummingbirds would stick their long beaks into tree trunks and die, then they were "resurrected" in the Spring. Another myth was that they would migrate by "riding" on the backs of geese or swans. Neither of these myths is true, but they were interesting and made for some good tales.
Hummingbirds mate and build their nests in the Spring, and usually, a nest will only be about the size of 1/2 of an English walnut shell! The outer nest is covered with moss and plant fibers, the inside is made from plant "down" and spider webs. Each nest will usually have just two small, white eggs in it, and each egg is only a little less than 1/2 inch long! Those are some pretty tiny eggs! After they hatch, it is an amazing sight to see "Mother" come with food and see the two little heads pop up to eat!
A mother hummingbird regurgitates nectar and half-digested insects to feed her babies, then her throat swells and she "pumps" her beak in an action similar to a sewing needle. Generally, males do not help to build nests or care for young, but there have been some rare reports of males helping to incubate eggs.
Read More From Owlcation
Hummingbirds will not re-use a nest but occasionally will build a brand new nest right on top of an old, used nest.
Hummingbirds really are fascinating, beautiful birds and a lot of fun to watch! Putting a feeder in your yard is one great way to get an "up close" look at them. Just be sure to keep the feeder clean and put fresh nectar in it (once a week cleaning out and refilling is usually recommended.)
Another way to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to have an abundance of bright red, pink, or orange flowers. You will be rewarded with one of the greatest sights nature has to offer us, the beautiful hummingbird!
Mother Hummingbird Caring for Her Little Ones Until They Leave the Nest!
Questions & Answers
Question: We’re in Las Vegas. Who should we contact to rehabilitate local hummingbirds?
Answer: If you look up wildlife rehabilitators, you’ll find a list of names, and the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary may be another good resource. One more good possibility for help is an organization called Birds N Beasts. They may be able to send someone out to help, and they also have names of veterinary clinics in Las Vegas that can help.
Question: We’re converting to solar power, and apparently our satellite dish needs to be relocated. However, there is a hummingbird nest built in the struts that anchor the dish to the wall. It contains an egg that has been there at least two weeks, so we expect it to hatch soon. Who, if anyone, can move a nest safely?
Answer: I would try to wait to move it if you can do that, and if it can’t wait, I would try contacting your closest local wildlife agency- they may be able to send a professional out to take a look at it and give you some advice.
Question: Is there a special name for a hummingbird's beak or bill?
Answer: I’ve only heard of it being called a beak or a bill, but from what I’ve read it is longer than the ones on other birds.
Question: It’s November and I see hummingbirds at my feeder. I can’t tell if they’re Anna’s or Black-chinned, and I saw (on Wikipedia) that Anna’s frequently cross-breed. Are you aware of this hummingbird crossbreeding happening in Las Vegas?
Answer: I haven’t heard of it happening in Las Vegas, but I have heard of it happening in California, so I believe that Anna’s breeding with Black-chinned hummingbirds could also happen in Las Vegas.
KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on December 02, 2018:
Hi Jacqueline! I'm not really sure why your hummingbirds are no longer feeding. I did read someplace that when you use sugar, it pays to be careful that it 's pure, (purified) white sugar. Sugar that is not purified can have very small trace amounts of molasses that can be harmful to hummers. And I'm sure you know to rinse the feeder really thoroughly any time you use bleach to clean and sanitize it. Maybe someone reading this can also help with ideas or potential solutions. I hope your hummingbirds start feeding again soon!
Jacqueline Adler on December 02, 2018:
I was searching groups in my area for someone or multiple people who may have some answers to my hummingbird dillema. I live in Las Vegas and have a large number of hummingbirds that have been nesting and eating at my feeders (and flowering shrubs through Spring and Summer) for a decade or more. Suddenly last week, all four of my feeders are sitting empty and the birds are frantically flying around them but won't feed. I've taken them down and changed the sugar water, cleaned the feeders with a bleach mixture, and even tried diluting the mixture (because I had increased the amount of sugar for the colder weather). Typically I use a 3:1 ratio, but it was thicker this last time, so I thinned it a bit, but they still won't eat. I'm at a loss for what has happened. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on February 19, 2018:
Excellent information Bertie and Hazel! Thank you for sharing it!
Bertie on February 18, 2018:
Food coloring is petroleum based! The same stuff used in lice shampoo, etc. It is not healthy for humans, especially children and the elderly, let a lone a bird that weighs less than 3.7 grams. It's like giving antifreeze to a child. All you need is 4 parts water to 1 part pure cane sugar. No organic, raw, powdered sugars. No honey, no artificial sweetener. ONLY Plain pure cane sugar. It is the closest constituent to flower nectar! There is plenty of red on your feeder to "attract" them.
You also do not have to boil, and if you do, boil unmeasured water first for 2 minutes, THEN measure out 4 parts. Then add your 1 part sugar. Boiling the mixture concentrates the mix and makes it sweeter than it needs to be and can cause danger to their kidneys. With temps over 88, you need to change and clean feeders every couple of days and with temps over 91, you need to clean feeder and change out nectar every day. Do not use dish soap or any other soaps or detergents to clean the feeders. All you need is equal parts of white vinegar and hot water. Rinse well and fill. You can use 1 part bleach to 10 parts of hot water once a month for extra clean. rinse well! Also please use an ant moat and not any type of gel or petroleum products on or near a feeder to detour ants. since ants cannot swim, an ant moat does work.
On facebook you can check out Help Save Our Hummingbirds. Also a great group called Gardening Hummingbirds and so much more also on facebook. Happy humming!
KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on January 24, 2018:
Hi Karen! Welcome!! I know the plants we found that really attracted hummingbirds were a white Jasmine plant you’ll probably notice all over the area. They bloom in spring. Another one that really attracted hummingbirds is a plant with orange bell shaped flowers- I’m not sure what the technical name is for that one, but you’ll probably see them in a lot of yards, and in garden centers that are selling them! Hope this helps!
Karen Rutherford on January 23, 2018:
hi Kathy, we just moved here from Ohio , the house we bought is a blank slate as far as landscaping, do you have any recommendations on beautiful, non-thorny plants ( perennials and easy to grow and care for) I can plant to attract hummingbirds?
Rich Myers on June 05, 2017:
Add Your Comment.i have a hummingbird I need saved..please write me at theine5535@yahoo. Com
Ronnah on March 30, 2012:
Video brought tears to my eyes!!! Way cool!!!
KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on November 07, 2011:
Hi Mike! We haven't seen any either recently here in Las Vegas, I'm wondering if it will be spring before we really start seeing them again? I'm not sure what a red head one could be, except that the broad tailed hummingbird does have some red on it. Hopefully someone else might know! Thanks for stopping by!
Mike on November 06, 2011:
I am wondering when will they return? I did get a surprise the other morning when I saw one with a Red Head so I rushed in the house and filled and hung a feeder back up but alais I haven't seen the little begger since. I would like to know what kind of hummingbird it was if any one knows?
KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on October 05, 2011:
You're welcome SusieQ! :) I was fascinated watching that video, just waiting for that little second one to take off out of the nest! :) Glad you liked it!
SusieQ42 on October 05, 2011:
Very interesting hub and video. I thought the second bird was a chicken...then he finally flew away. Great information. Thanks for sharing.
KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on October 04, 2011:
Thanks, Suzette! I was thrilled when we started seeing them here! :) We have palm trees out back and a Hibiscus plant that has bright red flowers on it, so that's where they like to go. We also have a red oleander plant, but I'm not sure if they're really as attracted to that one. But they do like the Hibiscus! :)
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 04, 2011:
Wonderful hub! Isn't nature wonderful to watch? I had no idea hummingbirds lived in Nevada, let alone Las Vegas. I learned a lot from reading this hub. I have seen them in Maine, but I'm not sure which ones live there, and they are fascinating as you say.
Great hub and voted up!