Hummers in Snowstorm

Here at the base of the Rocky Mountains, we often have late spring snow storms. In fact, these late storms are often some of our biggest and wettest of the year. Today’s snowstorm is no exception. It has been snowing hard all day, and we don’t expect it to let up until tomorrow.

Normally in these spring storms, we worry about plants that have leafed out having branches broken as the wet snow weighs them down. The good news is that the temperature has been hovering right around freezing, so that the snow that fell earlier is melting off about as fast as new snow is being layered on top.

I’ve been hearing hummingbirds zooming overhead for about a month now. I knew that they were able to survive these late spring snow storms, and I assumed that they did it by going into torpor, a sort of overnight hibernation. This is a risky strategy because if it is too cold, they might not have the energy to wake up.

But in the last couple of storms, I’ve heard hummers zipping overhead. I have no idea how they find enough flowers not covered in inches of heavy wet snow to survive. But evidently they do. To make it a bit easier on them, I made sure my hummingbird feeders were clean and full last night.

We were rewarded with a female broadtailed hummingbird making just enough of a pit stop for my daughter to snap this photo.

hummer at feeder in storm_edited-1
The hummingbird is the dark lump in the center of the photo, getting a quick drink at the feeder.

Published by Amy Law

Amy Law is a science geek. She feels about science the way some people feel about music, or art, or sports – a total and complete emotional connection. She thinks in science. For Amy, there’s nothing better than helping people see the beauty of science as she does. She loves to untangle a complicated subject into its parts, explaining it so that anybody can understand what’s happening. Let her show you her world...

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