The Anna’s Hummingbird is the first bird that will be featured this week so that you, gentle reader, may be able to make an informed choice as you vote in the 2014/2015 Vancouver City Bird contest before May 10.
Many things impress me about the Anna’s Hummingbird, such as its tendency to attack much bigger birds or the male’s impressive mating display, which puts fighter pilots to shame (read more about this fascinating subject here). But I will focus on perhaps its most astonishing feature: Its brain. According to worldofhummingbirds.com, the brain of a hummingbird represents about 4.2% of its body weight, “the largest proportion in the bird kingdom.” Apparently, these birds remember “every flower they have been to, and how long it will take a flower to refill.” More information about the brains and memory of hummingbirds may be found in this article. It is also good to note that the speed of execution of the Anna’s Hummingbird arial display suggests that it must have a very rapid brain that can analyze things like distance and speed much faster than humans or most other living things, for that matter.
But let us not forget that one reason many people like these birds is that they are quite simply flying jewels, as can clearly be seen in these two photos taken a couple of months ago at UBC Vancouver’s Point Grey campus.
See you tomorrow, when I will speak of the Northern Flicker.