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Friday

Partly Sunny
Partly Sunny
High: 96 °F
Low: 66 °F

Saturday

Partly Sunny
Partly Sunny
High: 95 °F
Low: 67 °F

Sunday

Partly Sunny
Partly Sunny
High: 96 °F
Low: 67 °F

SCV Outdoor Report: Are You Smarter Than A Hummingbird?

By Wendy Langhans

Sponsored By:

Advanced Audiology

There are many ways to
address this question.  If you simply
consider brain size, it's a "no brainer" (forgive the pun).  A hummingbird's brain is smaller than the
size of a pea.  And while humans are
certainly capable of "pea-brained" behavior, our brains are much larger than a
pea - about the size of a large cauliflower.

 

Image
Hummingbird nest (photo courtesy Dianne Erskine).

 

But what if you compare
proportions - brain size to body size? 
Now it gets a bit more complicated. 
Compared with humans, hummingbirds have twice the ratio of brain/body
weight.

 

The average human
brain/body weight is 1.3 kg / 70 kg or a ratio of 1.9%.

The average hummingbird
brain/body weight is is 228 mg / 5,970 mg or a ratio of 3.8%.

 

I could go on and compare
the various skills possessed by humans and hummingbirds, but I won't.  Instead, let's try a different approach.  Let's look at how advertisers craft their
appeal to both species, using nutrient-laden liquids as an example.  Humans advertise vitamin water to in exchange
for money and flowers advertise nectar in exchange for cross-pollination.

 

Humans:

  • purchase and drink various
    types of vitamin water
  • cost per bottle varies -
    $1.00-$1.59 (and don't forget the 5¢ crv and the energy expended in getting to
    the store)
  • Humans package vitamin
    water in tubular shape with bright colors.

 

Image
The red and orange colors of vitamin water attract humans.

 

Hummingbirds:

  • drink nectar from flowers
    (which contain sugars and may also contain electrolytes such as vitamins,
    minerals and amino acids)
  • cost measured in metabolic
    energy (no 5¢ crv)
  • Flowers package nectar in
    tubular shape with bright colors.

 

Image
The red and orange colors of this Heart-leaved penstamen attract hummingbirds.

 

So far a draw, right?  But now consider this:  hummingbirds have spatial memory; they remember the location of nectar-laden
flowers. Now quickly - can you tell me where I can find vitamin water in your
favorite grocery store?  Which aisle is
it in?  Ah - not so easy, is it?

 

Are you still convinced
that humans are smarter?  Check out what
the folks at the Mayo clinic have to say about vitamin water:  "If you're eating a balanced diet or taking a
multivitamin, you won't likely benefit from drinking vitamin water."  Paying extra for what you already get
elsewhere sure sounds like "pea-brained" behavior to me.

 



Upcoming Outdoor Events: 

 

Saturday, February 21, 8:00-10:00
AM.  Morning Bird Hike in Towsley
Canyon.  Towsley Canyon is a year-round home for birds. 
They like our Mediterranean climate, the local bounty and the California sunshine. 
Bring your binoculars and meet at the entrance.  Heavy rain cancels.  For map and directions go here.

Sponsored by the Mountains
Recreation and Conservation Authority.

 

Saturday, February 21, 10-12
AM.  Wildflower hike at East
& Rice Canyons.

Heavy rain cancels.  For map and directions go here.

Sponsored by the Mountains
Recreation and Conservation Authority.

 

Saturdays, February 14 and 28, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM. 
Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley
Canyon
.

Come join our trail
maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout.  For
more information contact Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565.

 

 



You can listen to stories
like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio
station KHTS (AM-1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation
Authority.

 

For the complete MRCA hike
and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to www.LAMountains.com.