FOR THE BIRDS

May 7, 2024 | Life at Albemarle Plantation

by David Schleeper

I moved to AP (with Amy and Lilley) in the Fall of 2022. My interest in birds was mostly an accident. During the peak of the COVID lockdowns, Amy brought home a bird feeder and some seeds, with the intent that it would be a good “at-home” science lesson for Lilley. Long story short, I enjoyed the birds so much that I took over the feeding operations.

After moving to AP, we learned what a distinct natural habitat our community provides. With northern birds during the winter and southern birds in the summer, along with coastal and migratory waterfowl, AP is an incredibly unique location for birds and other types of wildlife.

Nature provides gifts and beauty every single day along the Inner Banks. My goal with “For the Birds” is to identify the rarity of AP with the hope that residents will enjoy our community more deeply and increase their appreciation of the nature around them.

A quick scroll through NABR and it is easy to determine the most popular bird in AP. So, for this inaugural installment of “For the Birds,” it is appropriate to celebrate the arrival of the Ruby Throated Hummingbird. An annual visitor from early April through late September, these iridescent birds are the only species of hummingbirds that travel east of the Mississippi River. The “hummers” are emerald green on their backs with white bellies. Males can be identified by the bright red patch on their chin, while females appear similar in color but without the red chin patch. In poor lighting, the iridescent red chin on the males can appear black. During their fall migration to their wintering grounds in Central America, they will fly more than 500 miles over the Gulf of Mexico without stopping while “flapping” their wings up to 50 times per second (50 Hertz for the engineers out there). When you realize the calories these birds burn in a day, it increases your motivation to make sure your feeder is full of nectar.

Fortunately for our residents, it is easy to attract these warm weather visitors. A simple red Hummingbird feeder filled with nectar will always do the trick. If you’re thrifty (pronounced “cheap”) like me, a homemade concoction of water and sugar in a 5:1 ratio will provide a proper meal for the Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Ants can be problematic on these feeders. If you are facing this issue, please research “Ant Moats” as a companion to your feeder to help resolve the dilemma. If you plan to attend AP’s monthly trivia on May 2, it is important for you to note that hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards!

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