The hummingbird feeder here was a success. There are frequent visits by yellow jackets, but also frequent visits by hummingbirds. Since the hummingbirds look different, we’ve found out there are different types of hummingbirds, which I don’t think I really knew before. I had fun looking up and reading about different types. We think our visitors might be male and female ruby-throated and maybe Roufous hummingbirds. But, of course, even seeing them a few times a day every day, they generally fly away before we get over the novelty of watching them move – hover, float, tongue flicks and head bobs, that we forget to study their feathers too much and notice their appearance instead.
I searched the internet for “ultra slow motion video of hummingbirds” (my kids and I love the ultra slow motion video of the dog drinking water). We came across this video/article taken from an engineering course on the mechanics of flight at Standford University. The wing motion in the video reminds us of a family favorite display representing bird wing motion at the Museum of Science in Boston (that blue metal thing on the lower level that you trace wing motion patterns, but oddly is poorly designed and spaced too far apart for most kids and petite grownups to be able to reach both sides at once).
It also reminds me of the desired motion my kids are struggling to master in the water as they all (struggle to) learn to look a little more graceful (or be a little more successful) treading water this summer. I’m amazed at the parallel symmetry of the motion, but suppose I shouldn’t be since is the same thing – hovering, just one is in air and one is in water.
And all those similarities remind me why I loved engineering. The goal of engineering is to apply concepts drawn from science, math and observation of the natural world to solving real world problems. There is a big emphasis and initiative these days to encourage kids in the STEM fields, and I think that’s great. Some kids are naturally drawn to the mathematical and mechanical, and some are interested in all things computers, but I want to get the word out there, that there is lots of space and opportunities in engineering for personalities and minds who also like to sit back and watch how the grass grows and how birds move and interact at the bird feeders.
Here is another video of close up hummingbirds that I enjoyed (there’s an advertisement about the lodge, I have no affiliation just enjoyed the bird footage). I’m not sure how I feel about wild animals getting used to being fed by hand, but my kids are super into the idea!