Monday, September 20, 2010

Hummingbirds Are Awesome

I may have said this before but it bears repeating.

If you're still not convinced that they're awesome:

1) Remember that (like all birds) these critters evolved from dinosaurs. Descendants of giant reptiles (whose niches are now filled by mammalian megafauna) have taken over some of the niches of insects. Absurd! Amazing! What a planet!

2) Owing to their outlandish metabolism, hummingbirds can starve in a few hours. Their metabolism and speed appears to be constrained from going to further extremes by the fundamental upper limit of kidney filtration. It's a wonder their glomeruli don't put out sparks.

3) In Black Diamond Regional Park in the Bay Area, I once saw a blooming eucalyptus in winter, in the middle of grassy hills, not unlike the one in the photo a few posts down. It must have been the only flowering plant for miles, because it was swarming with hummingbirds. The tree sounded like it was made of electricity.

4) Aztecs thought that hummingbirds and butterflies were the souls of warriors who had fallen on the battlefield; ancestors as Valkyries.

5) They got purty shiny feathers.

If you're still not convinced they're awesome then what's wrong with you.

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