GLADE SPRING, Va. — Let your interest in birds take flight when the Glade Spring Library hosts a program about the amazing hummingbird.

Randy Smith, of Abingdon, will share his fascination with the tiny birds from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Participants will learn about the biology and flight characteristics of nature’s flying wonder, as well as tips on how to attract the bird to your property.

Since he was a child, Smith, a retired history teacher, has watched and studied birds, and the hummingbird is one of his favorites. After his retirement in 2014, Smith became a Virginia Master Naturalist and began volunteering at local parks, where he shares his interest in wildlife.

“Hummingbirds are a lot of company for people, especially the elderly who enjoy watching the flight of the birds from their windows,” he said.

During his presentation, Smith will educate participants on some of the fascinating characteristics of hummingbirds. For instance:

• There are more than 300 hummingbird species, but only one species lives in this region — the ruby-throated hummingbird.

• The smallest bird in the world is the Cuban bee hummingbird, measuring 2.25 inches long — about the size of a bumblebee.

• A hummingbird’s maximum forward flight speed is 30 mph, but the birds can reach up to 60 mph in a dive.

• Hummingbirds lay the smallest eggs of all birds. Eggs are about the size of a pea.

• The hummingbird’s wing beat is between 40 and 80 beats per second.

• Hummingbirds are the only bird that can hover and move forward, backward and sideways.

• Hummingbirds migrate thousands of miles in the fall.

• Hummingbirds are cute but aggressive when it comes to defending their territories.

“I encourage people to hang their hummingbird feeders in late March or early April and leave the feeders until late October,” Smith said.

“Some of the hummingbirds migrate from here in late fall. If you’re a hummingbird migrating from Vermont, you’re maybe just getting to Southwest Virginia in October.”

Smith, who conducts bird walks at Hungry Mother Park, Natural Tunnel State Park and other locations in the region, said he’s often spotted hummingbird nests during the events.

“They are tiny nests on top of a limb and made of lichen, moss and other natural materials. Amazingly, the birds wrap spider silk around their nests to give them more stability.” Smith will show a video on this practice during his presentation at the Glade Spring Library.

In addition, he will tell participants how to use plants, such as honeysuckle, trumpet vine, bee balm and butterfly bushes, to attract the birds.

“A small bird bath with running water is another big attraction,” he said. “I’ve seen hummingbirds fly under the mist of the water.”

Smith said bird feeders for hummingbirds don’t need to be fancy, but colorful ones are best for attracting the birds.

No need to buy premade nectar from the store, said Smith.

A simple, homemade nectar recipe is:

  • 1 part sugar
  • 4 parts water
  • Boil 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Cool and refrigerate leftovers.

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Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at news@washconews.com.

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