|One of the wonderful attractions of the Suphur Springs Guest Ranch is the abundance of hummingbirds. The creatures of speed and agility are around every turn perched on a feeder or sipping from the variety of wild flowers. At this Ranch alone there are over eighty birds speeding in the skies above. The birds have not a care in the world for the human inhabitants, in fact if you are quiet and calm enough, you can hold a feeder in your hands and they will delicately land on your fingers.
There are two species of hummingbirds out of the 338 that dominate the Sulphur Springs Ranch: the Rufous and the Broad-tailed. The two species are set apart by many characteristics. The male Broad-tailed is a delicate bird that has a beautiful iridescent magenta coloration under its throat, (also known as the Ruby-throated) and brilliant green coloration to its body. Broad-tailed hummingbirds are the more personable of the two varieties found around here. The Rufous however, is slightly aggressive in nature, for they are the task-managers of the humming bird world. It is the duty of the Rufous to regulate cliques that happen at the feeding areas, to ensure equality of the nutrients for all. The Rufous can be identified by the fiery orange tone of their feathers.
Hummingbirds are the tiniest species of the bird world weighing 4 grams. The hummingbird has a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) of 1,400 calories per kilogram, which in human conversions is equivalent to eating 285 Big Macs and not gaining a pound. This is also compared to a 2,000-calorie diet for a human, where as a hummingbird requires 155,000 calories per day. The day of a hummingbird consists of constant feeding to sustain its high metabolism, 50% of its weight in sugar (nectar) is eaten on a daily basis. Hummingbirds have no sense of smell, therefore are attracted to food by the bright coloration of the petals, preferably red.
A hummingbird gets its name from the humming sound it makes as the vibrations reflect off of its feathers. This is at an incredible rate of 78 wing beats per second. The chest muscles that attach the wings to the bodies make up 20-30% of its body weight. The wings are very dynamic parts to the hummingbirds' motion, swiveling almost 180 degrees to allow for split second stops, hovering motionless, as well as maneuvering at the drop a hat. The wingspan is the greatest of all avian species. A swan with comparable retrospect would have a 65-foot wingspan!