Actually uk.r.b has had quite a few hummingbird threads, most of them just consisting of lost American birders being (more or less gently) pointed in the direction of a more appropriate forum.
However there was also this one ...
From: nola (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: hummingbirds?? Date: 1999/12/14 I have recently been told that hummingbirds that live in extreme seasonal climates ( such as Canada ) cannot migrate on their own. This was attributed to their small size and rapid wing beats per second and that they required too much energy to go any distance. This was followed with the idea that they "hitch hike" on geese in some sort of symbiotic relationship. Is this true? I am sorry if this is somewhat off-topic but I am not an expert on birds and I felt someone here would know the answer.
From: Michael Sutcliffe (email@example.com) Subject: Re: hummingbirds?? Date: 1999/12/16 The suggestion that humming-birds hitch a lift on geese to migrate does conjure up some wonderful images, but I fear your source is misinformed - or winding you up! The Ruby-throated humming-bird (about the same size as our Goldcrest) does indeed migrate between the Mexico/Panama area and as far north on that continent as southern Canada, but it does so entirely under its own steam. It needs a lot of nectar at frequent intervals to keep it going, but it obviously works as a survival and breeding strategy, because thousands (?millions) of them do it every year. We also have very small birds that migrate long distances - whitethroats for example, but birds have an advantage over us, because they have a metabolism that can directly and quickly convert body fat to energy when the need arises. That's why they feed up before migrating; humming-birds have another trick, whereby they can go into a sort of temporary torpor/semi-hibernation if weather conditions are too bad for long flights. Mike Sutcliffe
From: Malcolm Ogilvie (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 1999/12/15 Nola writes >This was followed with the idea that they "hitch hike" on geese in some >sort of symbiotic relationship. > >Is this true? I am sorry if this is somewhat off-topic but I am not an >expert on birds and I felt someone here would know the answer. No, it isn't true, it's a myth. Similar myths have been told about Goldcrests, one of the smallest European birds, hitching lifts on larger birds. Most migratory hummingbirds move over land, so that they can stop and feed if necessary, but they are capable of long flights without feeding, the Ruby-throated migrates about 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico without any problem. -- Malcolm
From: Bill Alexander (email@example.com) Date: 1999/12/15 Malcolm Ogilvie wrote ... > No, it isn't true, it's a myth. Similar myths have been told about > Goldcrests, one of the smallest European birds, hitching lifts on larger > birds. Huh!!! next thing you will be saying there's no Santa Claus.
From: Malcolm Ogilvie (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 1999/12/15 How'd it be if I accepted Santa Claus but challenged you strongly on the existence of flying Reindeer on which he appears to be somewhat dependent? I can't think why he doesn't invest in some geese.
From: Bill Alexander (email@example.com) Date: 1999/12/15 You scientists kill me!! It is a well known fact that Snow Geese take over when the Reindeer are in eclipse. Very much younger Bill....... Well it is Xmas David.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 1999/12/15 Because Malcolm Ogilvie wrote: > > How'd it be if I accepted Santa Claus but challenged you .....snip Jack Harrison then went and wrote: > Malcolm, > > I would expect you still to believe in Santa Claus. After all, we recently > found out that you are quite a bit younger than some of us:-) Folks Let this be a dire warning to anyone from outside the UK who stumbles across ukrb and expects a sensible answer. Poor Nola (presumably from across the pond) asks about hummingbirds, and within 4 postings it has been hijacked (Hi, Jack!) by the provisional wing of the SBC discussing their relative ages and the probability of a fat man who wears a fur- trimmed red suit and is hampered by a severe shortage in the chimney department of modern day housing estates. Oh deary deary me. Mark
From: nola (email@example.com) Date: 1999/12/15 Thank you to everyone for the clarification of my suspicions. You all will receive an equal percentile of the 5 dollars (canadian funds) that you have helped me win on this wager. The funds will arrive as a post masters cheque in the tail feathers of a goose. Keep watching the skies. Now, about this "no such thing as Santa Claus" business ..........
From: Malcolm Ogilvie (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 1999/12/16 nola writes >The funds will arrive as a post masters cheque in the tail feathers of a >goose. Keep watching the skies. Oh excellent :-)) Now, about my professional consultancy fee. There are c.50,000 geese wintering close to my home so this should give you plenty of opportunity for making payment.......! -- Malcolm
From: Elaine Cook (email@example.com) Date: 1999/12/18 >How'd it be if I accepted Santa Claus but challenged you strongly on the >existence of flying Reindeer on which he appears to be somewhat >dependent? I can't think why he doesn't invest in some geese. with a Mute Swan in the lead since it's got the closest thing to a red nose? Elaine
From: Malcolm Ogilvie (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 1999/12/18 Elaine Cook writes >with a Mute Swan in the lead since it's got the closest thing to a red >nose? I fear you're forgetting some important practical considerations. For a goose flying immediately behind a Mute Swan, the turbulence would be equivalent to a small jet trying to follow a jumbo. Let's hope Santa bears this in mind. -- Malcolm
From: Terry Harper (Terry.Harper@btinternet.com) Date: 1999/12/18 Malcolm Ogilvie wrote... >I fear you're forgetting some important practical considerations. For a >goose flying immediately behind a Mute Swan, the turbulence would be >equivalent to a small jet trying to follow a jumbo. Let's hope Santa >bears this in mind. With practical experience of formation flying, I suspect the goose would position itself (herself?) to the side and avoid the worst effects. You don't often see (geese or) the Red Arrows flying in line astern without some vertical displacement. -- Terry Harper, Acting Webmaster, The Omnibus Society
From: Malcolm Ogilvie (email@example.com) Date: 1999/12/19 I think you're forgetting that both birds are involved in pulling a sledge, Terry. Unless Santa uses a fan trace, which I think is unlikely - he certainly doesn't with his reindeer - then the geese are going to be unable to get far enough out to the side. -O- <--- swan ---> -O- -o- | -o- <-- geese ---> -o-o- -o-\ | /-o- | | \ \|/ / -o-o- \|_|/ |_| | | <-- sledge --> | | fan trace in-line trace I think I would assume Santa has researched all this. There ought to be a published paper about it somewhere, presumably in some unreadable Finnish journal :-( -- Malcolm
From: Terry Harper (Terry.Harper@btinternet.com) Date: 1999/12/19 I think that the geese would fly below the bird immediately in front, just as an aircraft does in formation. The pilot does it so that he can always see the other aircraft, which might disappear from view otherwise. Now the goose can move its head, so does not have the same problem, but would wish to keep away from the swan's wing tip vortices. Santa can help with a vertically fanned trace, perhaps. It might take several Lapps of the earth on 25th Dec to perfect the technique, however. :-) -- Terry Harper, Acting Webmaster, The Omnibus Society
From: Malcolm Ogilvie (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 1999/12/20 It might take even longer for the geese to perfect the technique of landing when they are attached to traces one above another - and presumably Santa calls for volunteers to be underneath the swan as it lands :-) I think we need a research grant - or to interest a TV producer, which might be easier.... -- Malcolm
From: Stephen Poley (email@example.com) Date: 1999/12/20 On Sat, 18 Dec 1999 15:35:00 +0000, Malcolm Ogilvie wrote: >Elaine Cook writes >>with a Mute Swan in the lead since it's got the closest thing to a red >>nose? >I fear you're forgetting some important practical considerations. For a >goose flying immediately behind a Mute Swan, the turbulence would be >equivalent to a small jet trying to follow a jumbo. Perhaps we could instead get a Rufous Hummingbird to hitch-hike on the goose's beak in order to provide this feature? Which reminds me of a Denis Norden story. Greatly abbreviated, it runs roughly as follows. Back in the days of the cold war, Denis contrives to make friends with a Russian chap called Rudolv, who actually turns out to be a KGB agent. Somewhere around Christmas, Denis takes pity on this chap far from home, and invites him home for dinner. Denis has been hoping for a white Christmas (like most of the denizens of uk.sci.weather) and suddenly spots something falling out of the sky which is, at the very least, a bit sleety. Rudolv however has seen plenty of snow back home in Moscow and scornfully dismisses it as just a drop of rain. This irritates Denis, who gets into a bit of a discussion about it. His wife leans over and whispers in his ear "Rudolv the Red knows rain, dear". Merry Christmas everyone! Stephen Poley
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Date: 1999/12/20 Stephen Poley (who ought to know better) wrote: > Which reminds me of a Denis Norden story. ...and since we're as off-topic as it's possible to be, here's another from the same source: My wife has gone off for a week to visit her mother. She has left strict instructions as to what I must do while she's away. 1. I must make plenty of soup - it's the only thing I can cook. 2. This must be vegetable soup, she thinks I need the roughage. I must get a cauliflower. 3. The fridge needs defrosting. 4. I must buy some elastic so that she can repair my socks when she gets home. 5. I must get some eggs so that she can make me an omelette when she gets home. 6. While I'm defrosting the fridge, I must lift it up to remove the pea that fell out of the birdseye bag last year and rolled underneath it. 7. Finally, and most importantly, I must go to the chemist to get something for my bad breath. She thinks I'll never remember all this, but I will. I've made up a little rhyme so's I won't forget. It goes: Soup - a cauli - fridge - elastic - eggs - pea - halitosis Pass us me coat. It's the red one with the white fur trimmings... Mark
From: Colin Conroy (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 1999/12/21 I suppose I ought to mention a program I heard on Radio 4 the other night about the life of Mahatma Gandhi. You know of course that he use to walk around bare foot everywhere and of course this led to him having extremely hard, calloused soles to his feet. Because of his very ascetic lifestyle and strict diet he was always quite frail but being a very holy, mystical man he was able to overcome this. However it caused him to have a problem with bad breath. This made him ... wait for it ... Super calloused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis. Apologies to everyone for that "joke", it's not my fault, I'm a victim of my upbringing. My Dad's got a terrible sense of humour too. Colin
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