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PBS: Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air

A review by Elaine Webster

hummingbird_062313_2Like many, I encourage bird visitation to my yard. So much so that the word has spread throughout the western flyway, that when you land in Sonoma County Wine Country, be sure to check out the Webster house. You can’t miss it. A flock of doves will be pecking at tossed seed and millet on the lawn. The jays will be nesting in the corner oleander bushes.  Across the yard, two sets of cowbirds will be busy removing all pesky bugs from the vegetable garden. Woodpeckers will be grooming the trees. Sparrows, finches and cardinals are constantly hanging from the feeder and splashing in the birdbaths.  And then there are the hummingbirds.

In an effort to learn more about these aerial acrobats, I ordered the PBS special on DVD from the Sonoma County Library, suitably titled, Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air. Today, I realized I could have saved a library trip and viewed the entire episode on-line.  http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/hummingbirds-magic-in-the-air/video-full-episode/5475/  But, however you choose to see this remarkable documentary, you will be glad you did.

Filmmaker Ann Prum’s access to breakthrough science and advanced technologies allows us to see the smallest warm-blooded creatures on the planet in action.  Their adaptation to environmental challenges is fascinating. Birds are masters of survival and hummingbirds are no exception.  Hummingbird migration and nesting patterns change along with planetary conditions. With human survival threatened daily from global weather and environmental changes, we are wise to pay attention to how the tiniest of creatures adapt.