Exploring Nature: Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope hummingbirds are the smallest long-distance migrant in the world and normally travels about 5,000 miles. PHOTO COURTESY OF JERRY HALL

As of early November, one lonely hummingbird was reported still hanging around a sugar-water feeder at a residence in New Braunfels. It was identified as a Calliope hummer, the smallest bird in the United States and about the size of a ping pong ball.

This is also the smallest long-distance migrant in the world and normally travels about 5,000 miles each year in a big oval, from its breeding area back to its wintering grounds in Central America.

Why the New Braunfels bird has stayed put so long is anybody’s guess. Maybe it just likes Texas.

Named after Calliope, the muse of eloquence and epic poetry, who inspired Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, this feisty little hummer will dive bomb much larger birds, including red-tailed hawks, during its breeding season.

The male utilizes a Ushaped dive for females, making a spitting buzz with its tail feathers and giving a sharp, zinging call.

Easily identified by the purple or magenta rays that burst from his throat, the male Calliope is one of the most colorful hummers. The female, as is usual in hummingbirds, is a more boring overall green and brown.

The female normally lays two eggs, tiny and white, about like jelly beans. Oldest recorded Calliope was an eight-year-old female.

In closing, let me remind you I have a few little chili pequin peppers available for the asking. Hot as blazes and about the size of BB’s, these little rascals really pack a punch. If you would like two or three, just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to me at 750 Cypress Creek Lane, Wimberley, TX 78676. So long until next time.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666