Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air
Introduction

Hummingbirds take extraordinary to a whole new level. They are the smallest warm-blooded creatures on the planet, but they are also among the fastest. With wings that beat up to 200 times every second, they are among nature’s most accomplished athletes, the only birds able to hover, fly backwards, and even upside down. Hummingbird metabolisms are set in permanent overdrive, requiring them to consume more than half their body weight in nectar every day, yet even so, they remain in constant threat of starving to death as they sleep. To survive the night, they fluff up their feathers and adjust their thermostats, decreasing their body temperatures by half and reducing their heart rate from 600 beats per minute to a mere 36.

Because hummingbirds live their lives in fast forward, much of their fascinating world is typically lost to human perception. But using cameras able to capture over 500 images a second, the hummingbirds’ magical world can finally be seen and appreciated. Amazing footage shows these little powerhouses are far more than delicate nectar gatherers — they are also deadly predators. And watch as the birds display their elaborate mating rituals, showing off with nose dives that subject them to over ten G’s of force — enough to cause an experienced fighter pilot to black out!

These tiny marvels dazzle and delight bird watchers all over the world, and NATURE reveals their stunning abilities as they have never been seen before.

  • Morgan Stewart

    I love birds. I think they are cool because they fly a lot. I wished I had one because I would let it fly in my room.

  • brian

    I thought the name of the episode is Hummers: Lightweight something!

  • Olive Lohrengel

    The most stunning picture of a hummingbird I have ever seen. I will certainly mark this date on my calendar so I don’t miss seeing Magic in the Air.

  • Sandy Lizotte

    Can’t wait to see this. I also have many video clips. Mating, Praying Mantis attacks, Hawk attacks. Anything I can learn about these magnificant little angels is wonderful.

  • Thomas H. Kaminski

    This no doubt will be a spectacular production. But how accurate will it be? I’ve worked closely with hummingbird research specialists in the US and South America to ensure the scientific accuracy of the four hummingbird videos I’ve produced, and I see some mis-information in the write-up for this Nature video — not an uncommon problem. For instance, when I discussed with widely-published hummingbird research specialist Dr. Doug Altshuler (Biology Dept., UC Riverside) the “200 wing beats per second” claim found in many popular hummingbird books and other write-ups — and my earliest hummer DVD — he noted that 100 beats per second appears to be the upper limit, and that the 200 beats/sec claim (for the male Bee Hummingbird during its courtship display) had never been scientifically established. The hummer’s resting heart rate ranges from 250-500 beats per minute (600/min. doesn’t appear to be a norm), but can spike to an amazing 1,260 beats/min. when the bird is excited. Hummers eat about 1-1/2 times their body weight in nectar daily, not merely “more than half” as claimed in the Nature write-up. Finally, hummers are found ONLY in the Americas and nowhere else. They “dazzle and delight birdwatchers” elsewhere in the world only through media such as books and DVDs. So here’s hoping that the accuracy of Nature’s program is as great as its images, and better than in the write-up. I’m looking forward to watching it.

  • Rita Merchant

    These birds are jewels. What gorgeousness. I shall be tuning in this weekend.

  • Mike

    Interesting!

  • Rob

    Love watching them all year around at the feeders, in hte flowers. Great, I will put it on my calendar.

  • Diana

    My best friend has feeders on her porch and when I was there I could sit and watch them for ever. And the humming sound is soothing. The best show in town.

  • Nicholas E. Tishler

    For those interested in hummingbirds, visit hiltonpond.org. There is a wealth of information there about hummingbirds and how to attract them. It is at that website that I found the recipe for making hummingbird nectar with sugar and water and the warning not to use the product sold commercially that contains dye. There is also a hummingbird listserv. Finally, every fall and spring, migration maps are posted at various websites. Many of the data points are provided by amateurs and they also contain first and last sightings.

  • Louis

    My father, Ralph Dessau has written a book about the hummingbirds. He photographed them with a Hasselbland and a high speed flash inspired by Crawford Greenwalt. At age 80 he is still actively photographing and videotaping them in Panama and producing beautiful photos and videos.
    He will enjoy this program as will I who admire what he has captured and understood for year.

  • Tom Darden

    Wow
    Kaminski must not have been consulted on this project.

  • Mrs Caldwell

    I appreciate scientific input, and his attempt to educate viewers.

  • kik

    I’d love to share this video and get the show more exposure but there is no embedding option for the video. Is that something you can add? You’d get a lot more publicity for the show.

  • eaamon

    it is just amazing how the colors can be. I had one in my yard that the feathers were gold then turned blue in the sunlight. we have 7 6-hole feeders and about 25 plus on them every night…even this winter. during migration I had to drill out extra holes in between the flowers on the feeders. they would load up to 13 just on one feeder. 32 oz. had to be put into every feeder daily during that time. it was something to watch 3 birds share a single hole for feeding…….

  • Ray Figueroa

    Our Georgia hummers arrived in March 2009 and left in October. They are a delight!

  • william martinez

    It is not true that hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards. the vermillion flycatcher also can fly backwards– check it out!!

  • Me2

    Always has to be one negative person in the bunch.

  • David Young

    When more than two Ruby Throats use the same feeder there is constant fighting going on. One will stand guard and drive off others trying to use their feeder. Sometimes one bird will draw him off so that another can feed. They are fierce fighters and will physically dual and strike each other. One can hear the contact. I have quite a collection of hummingbird wings that have been left behind after a battle.

  • Deborah France

    There was a scientist who while alive was considered the foremost hummingbird expert. I remember reading that he (in the late 1970’s or 1980’s) was bitten by a poisonous toad. He ended up being treated by 3 Bolivian witchdoctors as because Western medicine couldn’t help with the toads poison. I never learned what happened to him nor do I remember his name. I’ve always been interested in finding out more about him. Anybody out there remember this guy or know his name or what became of him? I’ve engaged in casual investigative web based search romps for more info regarding him but always came up empty. DF

  • Mary Carlson

    Wow! That preview is so impressive. I am going to set my DVR right now.

  • Don Sterba

    It is highly misleading to state that some hummingbirds can decrease their body temperatures “by half”, or 50%, during cold nights. The numeric value of a fractional decrease in temperature depends upon the units used to measure the birds’ high and low temperatures. For example, if one uses Fahrenheit units, a hummingbird’s temperature may range from a daytime high of 106 F down to a nighttime low of 53 F, so is appears as though the bird’s temperature decreased by (106 F – 53 F) / 106 F = 50%, but the result is misleading because the Fahrenheit scale is not an “absolute” scale but has a contrived zero point setting.

    Using the Celsius scale, another contrived non-absolute scale, the temperatures 106 F and 53 F become approximately 41 C and 12 C. So the percent temperature drop using Celsius readings becomes (41 C – 12 C) / 41 C = 71%, an even more dramatic drop than when using Fahrenheit values.

    In order to get a realistic feeling for the percentage temperature drop in my example, one must use an absolute temperature scale such as Kelvin that has its zero point set at “absolute zero”, the coldest possible temperature (there are no negative degrees K). In my example, the temperature drop from 314 K down to 285 K (approx. values) gives a percentage drop of (314 K – 285 K) / 314 K = 9 %, so it is realistic to say that some hummingbirds can lower their body temperature by approximately 10% or a bit more, but certainly not as much as 15% or they would end up frozen.

  • June B.

    Is there any chance that the US military overseas can see this? I, for one, would love to see it. We sometimes get a few PBS programs shown on Armed Forces Network (AFN). Please consider sending this one out to us. Thanks

  • Nasrin Brown

    We have a red neck one which comes in December & leaves before summer. Last year he sat all day on our tree watching us & feed from the flowers in the garden. I was very surprise to see him back this year. He is braver this time he knows my voice & every time I talk to him he comes close to me & flys over my head & drinks from his feeder I provided for him. He has found a mate now. Fascinating birds.

  • Lenore Daniels

    I put a window feeder up for the Hummers and I get a front row seat. What a show!

  • Tom Delane

    No, June, aircrafts are heavier-than-air and function differently from birds, which use feathers and hollow bones. Besides, we’ve got enough firepower as a nation, haven’t we?

  • ilgworldvisionteam

    Excellent… It’s so amazing ..you see so much when the time is spent to slow down the motion of a humming bird… Good Work Indeed

  • Kristi H

    I am enjoying the program right now, and my cat is fascinated by the shots of the hummingbirds. Fascinating birds. Inspires me to add hummingbird habitat to my yard.

  • KPinSEA

    So timely, I’ve had a couple Anna’s hummingbirds making an unexpected appearance in my Seattle front yard this week …. never fails to make me stop and watch.

  • Mickey T

    This was a fascinating documentary! I have a few Annas that visit my back yard feeder during the winter. It’s quite comical watching one chase off the other one, even after I put two feeders out. I learned a lot from this documentary, and am going to order it, as I didn’t get to see the entire thing. Thanks for showing this.

  • Candice Diane

    Just viewed the production, thank you! I joined the program while changing channels and became mesmerized. Beautiful creatures, which I have loved a long time. I hope to find images of the Peruvian “sasheltail” hummingbird that was last in the piece for design inspiration. I once had to catch a disoriented, small hummingbird in my mother’s 2nd floor apt; the bird had been feeding on the deck as I watched when it flew through the door, and then attempted to exit via the window that was closed realizing its mistake. First hitting the glass twice and becoming entangled in the drapes, I gathered it in my hands, stroked and spoke to the bird to calm down. When it finally stopped fluttering, I stepped through the door, opened my hand and bid it goodbye. The tiny bird sat there in my hand looking at us for several seconds, looked to the sky, then to me again and flew away. Truly a magical moment I will never forget.

  • Rachel

    This is one of the most fascinating, beautiful shows I have ever watched. I am in awe – stunned and mesmerized. I’ve always known hummingbirds were special, but I’ve learned things in this program that have completely blown my mind. Brilliant! Thank you so much!

  • Sandy Sandy

    I just saw this program on TV last night. I am considered a “hummingbird master” by my friends and attract about 100 to my yard every year. You can see my hummingbirds in a feeding frenzy on YouTube. I enjoyed this so much and actually learned quite a few new things. A WONDERFUL film! I am ordering my own DVD today.

  • Mary Ann Hayes

    This is the most beautiful program I’ve ever seen about hummingbirds.My husband put 5 feeders out in the backyard and I have planted many plants and bushes to attract these beautiful birds. We spend alot of time trying to learn as much as we can about them. Where can we purchase a copy of this program(dvd)? Thank You Very Much for capturing so much of God’s beautiful creatures.

  • Pam Mark Hall

    Thank you, for the gorgeous program of these exquisite hummers – another example of Our Creator’s brilliant mind. I too wish to purchase the DVD to watch repeatedly.

  • Shirley McGreal

    This program was pure joy! Wonderful photograhy and amazing little birds. It will be replayed tonight (Monday) on Educational TV in (parts of)the Eastern US at 7 p.m. It made me want to pack my bags and travel to Pocahomas Peru to view the Marvelous Spatultail with its two long tails with bobbles on the end and to see the efforts by a local conservationist to plant suitable habitat tress for these birds. One of my favorite TV programs ever! Thanks to PBS and Nature! Can’t wait for late March for our ruby throats’ return!

  • Paul Treckeme

    I appreciate the great programing you do but alas I missed this one on the hummers. When will you show it again and is there a way that I might purchase it on a DVD??? Keep up the fabulous work.

  • Linda H Jones

    Where/how can I buy the video???

  • Gary

    You can buy the DVD from Nature. At the end of the show, they provided an 800 # to order it. I think this info below may be what you’re looking for on DVD.

    Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air
    http://www.shopthirteen.org/product/show/76172
    Available 2/23/2010.

  • Mary

    It was a wonderful program!! As I watched, I became even more appreciative of the Rufous Hummingbird that appeared at my deck in Interior Alaska two summers ago and drank from all the petunias, before moving on to find other food! I plan to purchase a DVD as soon as one’s available. Thanks, Nature!

  • Sherry

    I missed this show, but have seen other shows & I have seen them in my back yard in southern California. I love watching Hummers! They are amazing birds. Not only are they beautiful, but they are surprisingly aggressive towards their own kind when it comes to feeding! It is quite funny to watch! As for having birds in your home so you can watch them fly around, I believe that is a big mistake! Windows are deceiving for birds & many birds, mostly exotic parrots, have lost their lives because they thought they could fly out! Wild birds should just be enjoyed in the wild!

  • J. G. Martin

    Loved the show!! Can we watch it again on the web, or will it be broadcast again – if so when?

  • Salvatore

    I would like to share this poem by Emily Dickinson, which describes a hummingbird:

    A Route of Evanescence
    With a revolving Wheel—
    A Resonance of Emerald—
    A Rush of Cochineal—
    And every Blossom on the Bush
    Adjusts its tumbled Head—
    The mail from Tunis, probably,
    An easy Morning’s Ride—

    –Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Poem #1463

  • Mary Ann G.

    These birds are magical aren’t they? I have what might be a silly question, but I can’t seem to find an answer. There seems to be a few experts out there so maybe someone can help. Do all hummingbirds — hum?

  • Tohru Takekoshi

    It is a tremendous work. It must have taken immense patience and great effort of many people involved. As a scientist I salute them from my heart.

  • Mary Ann Hayes

    I just watched the hummingbirds again. It’s so beautiful I could watch it everyday. This time I was ready with a pen and paper at the end of the program and got the phone #.It is 1-800-336-1917 or you can go on line, buytheshow.org.I hope this helps. I’ll be purchasing many copies for my family and friends. Many Thanks to the crew for their patience so that we may enjoy so much wonder and beauty. Please continue on your awesome jouney so we may see all the beauty Mother Earth has to offer.

  • Cherokee

    We have tons of hummers here at our place from spring till the end of fall. It is also on the migratory flight path so when they’re going south we average about 3 to 6 quarts of food a day for a couple weeks. What amazing little birds they are.

  • Kelley Bostwick

    I am amazed, entralled and just plain tickled purple by Ann Prum’s gift to us of these air jeweled acrobats. How incredibly beautiful! Your camera skills are amazing. Thank you for sharing your world of beauty. I will navigate pbs.org for purchasing details.

    BEAUTIFUL! I felt like you had let me peek through your window in Eden.

  • Tom Corwin

    How do I buy a DVD of the humming bird program? I very much want to have one for my summer home in the Adirondacks where I feed dozens of hummers all summer from a feeder on my deck. My guests would love to be able to see this video.

  • Sandy Lizotte

    **WOW**WOW**WOW** WHAT A GREAT SHOW THANK-YOU FROM THE VENTURA HUMMINGBIRD LADY

  • r townsend

    i only got a few monents of this show on hummingbirds would like to see the whole thing when will it be on again what was the name of the one hummingbird with the funny long thin tail like feathers be waiting to here thank you

  • Melanie

    Thank you PBS and Nature for yet another brilliant episode! The quality of your shows are above and beyond most television shows on any station in the cable t.v. universe. We’ve been watching Nature for years and continue to look forward to each and every show. Thank you for producing such quality work time and time again.

  • J. H. Gentry

    I missed watching this program on TV, thanks so much for being able to view the entire episode on your website. Please publish when it can be seen again on TV. I look forward to Spring for many reasons, but especially the return of my little hummers. My feeders are always ready for their return. It’s great to know how many other people are preparing nectar, planting flowers, and sharing this same enjoyment. Great work PBS!

  • Nicholas

    Make more programs of birds and bees, flowers and trees, honeybees, songbirds, rabbits, and cute things like these that make the world go round and give us PEACE & HAPPINESS!!! I’m tired of sharks aren’t you? Yea Hummingbirds!!!

  • Barb

    I just loved this Hummingbird vedio. I was really amazed at how many different ones there are and how beautiful as well. Looking forward to many more of your showes on Hummingbirds.!

  • Lloyd Swanburg

    On 21 May 2009, I was holding a hose and watering my lawn in Atkinson, New Hampshire. I was holding the hose nozzle in my left hand, down near my trousers. I suddenly heard a noise I thought to be that of a large winged insect, bumping up against my trousers, and looked down. Hovering there was a humming bird. I stood still. Since the nozzle I was holding was leaking, a drop of water had collected on a knuckle of my little finger. As I watched, the humming bird approached the drop and got a quick drink from it and then flew away. I am not your typical bird watcher, but that experience made my day! I recorded this event in my genealogy database, and felt blessed.

  • Linda Harvey

    I saw 45 minutes of this amazing hummingbird show.
    My 80 year old father feeds numerous hummingbirds,(he lives in the country) and only saw 15 mins of it and, want to see the whole program, can we purchase a DVD ? Thank you for a great program.

  • Sal

    The exact link for the hummingbird artificial nectar recipe at the hilton pond website is http://www.rubythroat.org/FeedingHintsMain.html

  • Sue

    Each spring, I eagerly await the arrival of hummers for the season. They are little jewels of sunshine to brighten up my day. I loved this show. I learned so much about these incredible and beautiful little creatures. They never cease to amaze and captivate everyone who watches them when they come to our feeder. Thanks for this great program!

  • Tom

    What a Wonderful program! Watched the other evening and just ordered the DVD for family.

  • kahli

    it was verry interesting how they talked about the different kinds of humming birds, thier adaptations and their migratory routes! since i watched a show on DNA a few days to a week before i watched that i was all prepared to watch that with all the male, female species stuff.
    i really thought the show was wonderful :)

  • Margo

    I see that a number of people have asked when this program will be rebroadcast, and no one has gotten an answer……….could you please let us know?

  • George C.

    FANTASTIC! What an incredible tour of these beautiful little creatures lives. It would be great to do a video log of all of the hummers, especially the bumblebee hummer, from So America, the smallest of all hummers. As I think your presentation eluded, hummers cannot walk as other birds do. They can either hop or fly. I was very enlightened to find out how they catch small flies, something one could not witness very well with the naked eye. Thank You!

  • NATURE Online

    Margo, local stations air rebroadcasts on different days and times. Please check your local listings by clicking the “Schedule” link at the top of the site.

  • Dean St.Laurent

    I was fading off to sleep last night, remote in hand, I did one of those sleepy eyed looks at the t.v. and saw my favorite birds!! I only cought the last half but plan to watch again. I actually kept repeating the type of “hummer” in my head before I went to sleep so I would remember in the morning so I could search the web. As always, Nature informs and entertains us. Thanks !!!

  • Larry

    hello, are there any plans to make “hummingbirds” availiable on blu ray for purchase?

  • Rick Evans

    The program described hummingbird migrations as the longest of any bird. Is that true? I thought arctic terns have the longest migration of any bird or animal.

  • Kaira Gandy

    I viewed this episode and loved it. The Chuparosa/Hummingbird is a natural wonder and there is something about their agility and beauty that gives me hope. Maybe the most fragile and diminuitive parts of my nature can thrive like the Hummingbird. Also, my favorite scented oil is Chuparosa oil. Lifts my spirit. Excellent program about nature and the creatures that depend on the flora and fauna for life.

  • Julia Scully

    While I loved the hummingbird program, I’m bothered by one comment. The narrator said that it was the only bird that hovers. I believe that there is at least one other bird that does so — the Kestrel. I have seen it in action hovering over fields.

    Is this an error or did I misunderstand?

    Julia Scully

  • Rick Evans

    Julia Scully — “While I loved the hummingbird program, I’m bothered by one comment. The narrator said that it was the only bird that hovers. I believe that there is at least one other bird that does so — the Kestrel. I have seen it in action hovering over fields.”

    I suspect the program meant that hummingbirds can hover in still air like a helicopter. Kestrels hover by gliding into a breeze.

  • Ohio

    Why can’t I buy this on DVD? The two I wanted to buy – Bower Bird Blues and Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air – are not available for purchase?

  • Marjorie McGrath

    I have been on the Hummingbird World Wide Country Tours in Aug. of 2008.( The Birds and Bloom Hummingbird Tour) This was a very well organized tour and wonderful, wonderful experience with these mystical little creatures. I adopted a Black-Chinned Hummingbird called Cloey, banded by the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. If Cloey is caught again to be checked on her progress I will get a letter from them. This was a lifetime dream I achieved.

    Marjorie

  • m lucero

    Just heard about the show Hummingbirds magic in the air. When will it be aired again please. I missed it in Jan
    marilyn

  • rick

    Amazing!!

    Does anyone know the name of the tubular red flower with black and white lip that shows up at 53 seconds into the show?

  • Randolph

    Amazed to hear that humming birds can “work” at 12,000 foot altitude in the Andes. The air is so thin at that altitude that one rarely sees birds that high much less birds that can hover! One of the greatest operational limits for helicopters is the maximum altitude at which they can hover out of ground effect. A helicopter than can do that over 10,000 feet is a very high performance helicopter.

    To hear that there is a hummingbird that can hover at that altitude boggles the mind! I wonder how they differ in adaptation to accomplish that??????

  • crzywlfwmn

    The Native Americans do not have a translation for the word Hummingbird… They call them Flower Eagles….suits them don’t you think….

  • Stephanie Harris

    In response to Deborah France: I found this information, from the Orlando Sentinel:

    NEWS
    Bewitched By The Doctor
    February 4, 1986
    They’re wanted men. Wanted by dozens of people who have asked the government for help in recruiting two Amazonian witch doctors to cure them of a variety of illnesses, the interior minister says. The requests started after plate-lipped witch doctor Raoni, chief of the Txucammarae tribe, announced last weekend that he and fellow medicine man Sapaim had ”cured” a Brazilian ecologist and hummingbird expert of poisoning. But Raoni has made it clear he does not want to become a witch doctor for non-Indians.

    June 4, 1986
    AUGUSTO RUSCHI, 70, a naturalist who witch doctors tried to cure of a liver disease he said came from touching poisonous toads, died Tuesday in a hospital. Ruschi’s nurse said his liver was paralyzed and nothing could be done in such cases.Two Indian witch doctors offered in January to treat Ruschi, whose work in the wilderness had included cataloging 80 percent of the known species of Brazilian hummingbirds. Ruschi said he had touched poisonous toads in the jungle 10 years ago and his liver had gradually ceased to function.

  • Mike

    Interesting episode!

  • LM

    Does this show really recommend making nectar in the proportions of 1 : 1, water to sugar?

  • Ruth

    We also caught the 1 to 1 water to sugar for nectar. We have always used 4 to 1. Please correct us if this is incorrect

  • Linda

    Please, is it 1 to 1 and not 1 to 4?

  • Tom Kaminski

    Linda, rest assured that it is 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Hummers cannot properly metabolize a 1:1 ratio. I’ve been working with hummer scientists (including some with whom Ms. Prum worked) and otherhummer specialists since 2002 to make my hummer DVDs as accurate as humanly possible, and I guarantee that the 1:1 ratio stated by Ms. Prum is inaccurate, at best. More to come.

    Tom Kaminski
    Avian Video Center
    http://www.avianvideocenter.com
    104 Aspen Way
    Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

  • Tom Kaminski

    Clarification — not sure I made this clear: the ratio is 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Can’t see my earlier reply and so can’t be sure I made that clear. Hope this helps. — Tom Kaminski, Avian Video Center

  • Tom Kaminski

    Additional feeding info: Use only table sugar and nothing else — no food coloring, supplements, etc. Never use honey, which can cause the birds’ bills to stick together or choke them. Clean the feeders a minimum of twice per week. This is especially important in hot, humid climates where, in unlean feeders, bacteria and mold can grow and thus harm the hummer. (In case you didn’t know.) — Tom

  • mike shriver

    why do inhave photographs of male anna’s feeding their young in the nest?

  • http://www.quantcast.com/handsnpaws.com handsnpaws

    Interesting thought. I wonder what negative political impact it will have in this economy.

  • NeldaJane

    Absolutely amazing little bird God has created! I plan to purchase the film and am actively starting to attract hummers to my back yard! Really appreciate any and all feeding advice from experienced hummer fans!

  • Susan R

    Your interview with the cinematographer gave some erroneous information. The ratio for making syrup is 4 PARTS WATER to 1 PART SUGAR, not one to one. And you mustn’t clean a feeder with soap only white vinegar.

  • http://honorar.si Zaposlitev

    eirqtniuvovovaoadgeh, delo, OJvWyFe.

  • L. Boutin

    I was told there was an excellent program on Ct. Public Broadcasting and discovered we cannot get it in this area. (Chicopee, MA. Charter). Will you be airing this program at any time in the future? Thank you, Lou Boutin

  • Doron Hutton

    Would love to have the DVD. Where and how can I get it. Want it so I can study it and learn more about the birds.
    Have six feeders hanging around the outside of my house and have enlarged the holes so Orioles can feed too, Have attracted House Wrens (Ididn’t know they ate nectar) and another dark gray bird larger than the House Wrens but smaller than the Orioles.
    Am making one quart of nectar a day now and in the summer make as high as three.
    Fun to watch the air battles and I recommend feeding the hummers as it also seems to cut down on the insects around the house.

  • Tom Kaminski

    Doron et al,

    You can purchase the DVD from Amazon.com or watch it free of charge online at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/hummingbirds-magic-in-the-air/video-full-episode/5475/.

    For those who are interested in content accuracy, here are some additional comments that are intended to address some inaccuracies in this often beautifully-filmed program. As you read, bear the obvious in mind: no production is perfect. The numbers you see represent the approximate times in “Magic” when they are seen/heard. Inaccurate statements are shown quotation marks and followed by the correct information.

    18:11 — “Hummingbirds must consume a lot of food every day…on average, more than half their body weight in nectar alone….” In fact, hummers consume from 1 to 1-1/2 their body weight in nectar daily.

    19:20 — “And those tiny wings beat up to 200 times every second.” This is one of the many myths found in commercial literature about hummers. Crawford Greenwald in 1962 made the definitive study of this subject. He showed that the maximum number of wing beats per second is 80. Dr. Douglas Altshuler, who was featured in “Magic,” and other hummer biomechanics experts, doubt that this number is significantly exceeded by any bird. (Note: I made the same “200 times” mistake in “Hooked on Hummingbirds [2004] but changed it in my later productions.)

    33:00 — Material about iridescent feather color suggests that the key to seeing it is “when the hummingbird turns his head.” The real key is the bird’s position and feather angle in relation to the sun and viewer.

    40:35 — “Nearly all of the hummingbirds found in the US and Canada…spend…the winter in the tropics of Central America.” Only five or six of the 16 species that breed in the US and Canada are known to winter south of Mexico.

    41:47 — Nancy Newfield, one of the researchers featured in “Magic,” is shown holding an adult female Rufous Hummingbird, but we hear her calling it an adult male. I asked Nancy, a published scholar, author and hummer bander who has worked with the birds for decades — and with me for several years — what happened. She alredy had posted on the Louisiana birding site the following:

    “…I might have simply mis-spoken. I might have mis-spoken, then corrected myself and the correction was left off or they might have used a snippet of sound from another part of the filming….”

    Nancy studies the birds at the Gulf Coast, not in the East as was stated in “Magic.”

    In the PBS/Nature series marketing campaign for “Magic,” we are told that, for the first time, we can view hummingbird behaviors that otherwise were impossible to see. And one minute into “Magic,” the narrator says, “Now, at last, we’re able to slow them down and get up close.” In interviews, “Magic” Producer and Principal Cinematographer Ann Johnson Prum says her video (paraphrasing) for “the first time” lets us actually see that hummers lead (quoting) “…lives where they’re battling each other, and they forage for insects, which I’d never known.”

    The fact is that a number of videos showed these and/or many other behaviors prior to the release of “Magic.” Some slowed them down (i.e., showed them in slow motion), others got up close, and yet others did both, e.g.: the BBC’s David Attenborough in “Birds of the Sun God”, 1987; Michael Godfrey’s “Hummingbirds Up Close” (AKA “Up Close With Hummingbirds”) in 1988 and again in 1998 in “Watching Hummingbirds”; Ernie Franzgrote’s “A Big Year for Little Birds” (2003); Sheri Williamson’s “Hummingbirds of North America” (2003); Avian Video Center’s (my) “Hooked on Hummingbirds” (2004) and “Hummingbirds! Beauty and the Beast” (first version released 2008); Charles Melton’s “Amazing Hummingbirds of the US” (2007); and others.

    A cursory survey of the popular and research literature also shows that some species are very territorial warriors, and that all forage for insects to get the protein they need.

    Perhaps Ms. Prum and PBS Nature will address these inaccuracies in future editions of “Magic.” Hope so. They certainly are to be commended for making “Magic” available not only on DVD, but also for free on the web!

    Tom Kaminski, Avian Video Center

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  • Gary B

    This is a great show!! Can it be bought on DVD?

  • sundaram chandrakaladhar

    A fantastlc feast of honey-sweet photographs…In INDIA I have seenmany many hummers…l strongly feel that man alone d0es not snugly fit into nature….the hummer how effortlessly creates a seat in air and with its pln-like n0zzle sucks the sticky honey…their wings are their lives!

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  • matt

    Response to:
    “Thomas H. Kaminski says:
    December 29, 2009 at 11:18 pm
    This no doubt will be a spectacular production. But how accurate will it be?”

    Must their always be a negative person in every comment blog? If it isn’t accurate then just enjoy the unbelievable footage. And don’t push your own personal dvd on this site. The money from purchasing these spectacular dvd’s and merchandise helps to provide quality educational television events that would otherwise not be possible. As far as I am concerned it is accurate. Let’s see you attempt to film these amazing birds during your weekend warrior approach to studying hummingbirds. I’ll send you some sugar water.

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    Thanks again for these amazing hummingbird pics!

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