• 61°

John Howell Column

John Howell Sr.

Early hummer feeding frenzies raising questions

Elsewhere in this section, page 14 to be specific, you’ll find a photo of Joe and Sherry Walker’s hummingbirds. Nothing unusual about that. Lots of folks take photos of hummingbirds.

What struck them as different is that the photo was made in mid-July and records hummers in numbers and frenzy that normally comes about mid-September. The mid-September feeding frenzy is triggered by the tiny birds’ anticipation of their long flight ahead.

They will keep heading south to the coast, feeding voraciously as they go. Territorial disputes around feeders during the frenzies become delicate, aerial ballets. Then they will make one last, long flight across the Gulf of Mexico where they will winter in Central America.

Amazing, simply amazing creatures.

The Walkers live in the northwest corner of Yalobusha County just west of Highway 51. The home which they built to live in after their retirement from Memphis careers is a landscaped paradise. The birds they attract to their feeders and the butterflies that come to their flowers are colorful adjuncts to an already beautiful yard.

But this apparent premature hummer migration has the Walkers puzzled.

They’re either off schedule, Sherry said, “or they know something that we don’t know and they’re migrating early.”