George Swan, a frequent visitor to Patagonia, is an amateur audio engineer who enjoys recording unique sounds. In March, he was visiting at Kathy and Ken Morrow’s house up on the mesa and he recorded a sound clip of hummingbirds at their feeder.
He has submitted the clip to thetouchofsound.com, an online site that offers such sounds from around the world. To go with the sound of hummingbird wings, he has written the following: “One of the best kept secrets among bird watchers, is the Southeast Arizona corridor where the Sonoita and Harshaw Creeks nestle between the Santa Ritas and the Patagonias. If you travel south from Tucson on Arizona 83 into Santa Cruz County, or north-northeast from Nogales on Arizona 82, you will find Patagonia, where, during the hummingbird migration, you can visit the Audubon Hummingbird Center, or if you are lucky and have friends who live up on the mesa, you can sit and sip a late afternoon beer and watch the hummingbirds sip at the feeders. In late March, the broadbilled, broad-tailed, magnificent, black-chinned and Costa’s hummingbirds can be thick at sunset—sometimes seeming to line up like planes at a busy airport or convertibles at a drive-in, each waiting for a turn to feed.
“There are always one or two birds that seems more smart-alecky than the rest, unwilling to wait their turn to feed, challenging with a loud chirp or chit and driving away the more delicate and peaceful of the family Trochilidae. While the chits are infrequent, the soft humming is almost constant. Hummingbird wings move at typically 50 flaps per second. Their hover is distinctive, and they can fly backwards at up to 15 m/s (34 mph). To conserve energy at night they may go into torpor, a state similar to hibernation with a metabolic rate 1/15th of normal rate.”
George’s clip is posted at thetouchofsound.com/sounds/hummingbird-migration-arizona-usa/. Just visiting this site opens a whole world of sounds that we often take for granted or may never have the chance to hear ourselves.