“It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.”–Aesop.
I love birds… and have loved them since I bonded with my chatty, cuddly (yes, cuddly!) little parakeet pal as a kid. I also love gardening.
I weathered “pandemic isolation” by building a wildlife-friendly habitat in my backyard. It’s amazing how much pleasure you can derive watching birds of various shapes, sizes and personalities feeding and nest building in your garden and jockeying for a cooling drink or a splash in an inviting birdbath. The list is endless: bullying Blue Jays, docile Doves, sweet-natured Robins, bonded Cardinals and loquacious Mockingbirds. The daily show at their spa (my garden birdbath!) is a priceless lesson in interspecies conflict resolution, and the melodious summertime serenade that Mr. Mockingbird performs 24-hours-a-day sure beats the sound of silence during a pandemic shutdown.
Bird-watching was already on my radar four years ago when I previewed Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum’s 2016 documentary, Super Hummingbirds. The hour-long film, her second film featuring these dazzling, tiny creatures, returns tonight in a welcome rebroadcast on the Award-winning PBS series, Nature.
A production of Coneflower Productions and THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, Nature: Super Hummingbirds makes its return visit on PBS tonight, Wednesday, July 14, 2021 (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET). Check local listings for air times and repeat broadcasts in your region and below for streaming and DVD availability.
If you live in the Americas and have a flower garden or have passed through one at some point in your life, you’ve possibly met up with one or two hummers. However, they move so fast and are so small (the world’s smallest birds!), chances are you were unaware of their presence. That is unless you’ve mounted a specially designed hummer feeder outside your window.
Thanks to the marvels of high-speed photography, Super Hummingbirds literally brings us eye-to-eye with various colorful species of hummingbirds, a rare occurrence in everyday life. We are privy to their intimate mating, birthing, nest-building and parenting rituals, as well as their amazing aerial feats. They can fly backwards, upside down and hover in mid-air, with wing speeds of up to 80 times per second.
The film also introduces the work being done with hummingbirds by ornithologists, behavioral ecologists and evolutionary biologists based at such institutions as UC Berkeley, the University of New Mexico and Cornell. Marvelous footage highlights hummingbird feeding studies conducted by Dr. Alejandro Rico-Guevara in Colombia; the astounding hummer high altitude oxygen comparables tabulated in the Peruvian Andes by Dr. Christopher Witt; and the flashy hummer mating dances filmed by Dr. Marcelo Araya-Salas in the Costa Rican rain forest.
Fast, feisty and focused on fueling up at the nearest nectar-rich flower, hummingbirds may be small, but their high-energy lifestyle makes extraordinary demands on their tiny bodies. Hence, their waking, sleep and feeding cycles are unique to the species and quite remarkable. Significant pollinators (pollen sticks to their heads as they hover and draw nectar from flowers), hummingbirds are also noteworthy for their adaptability to new terrain, climates and altitudes.
Super Hummingbirds will introduce you to tiny, breathtakingly beautiful, ever-evolving creatures that defy categorization. Even if you’re not an avian aficionado, I encourage you to take a step outside your comfort zone and catch the rebroadcast of Nature: Super Hummingbirds on PBS tonight, Wednesday, July 14, 2021 (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET). Check local listings for air times and repeat broadcasts in your region; http://www.pbs.org/nature and the PBS Video app for streaming info; and http://ShopPBS.org for DVD and Blu-Ray availability.–Judith Trojan