The Bottom Line
Do Hummingbirds Hum: Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds is a highly detailed inquiry into every aspect of the world of hummingbirds, from the basic definition of a hummingbird to the refined senses and physiology of these tiny birds to behavior, defenses, reproduction and more, concluding with conservation information and detailed appendices with even more information. Easily explained for the casual backyard birder but detailed enough to intrigue ornithologists, this book is a must read for any hummingbird enthusiast.
- More than 80 detailed questions are carefully grouped in related categories, and when appropriate, additional supplemental questions are referenced in individual answers.
- Covers a wide range of information about hummingbirds, from basic details to advanced inquiries.
- Fairly acknowledges when more research is needed to thoroughly address particular questions.
- Includes supplementary diagrams, illustrations and photographs where appropriate.
- Answers are occasionally highly technical and may be too detailed for casual readers, though vocabulary terms are clearly defined to keep readers well informed.
- Title: Do Hummingbirds Hum: Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds
- Authors: George C. West and Carol A. Butler
- Publisher: Rutgers University Press
- Publication Date: March 2010
- Format: Softcover
- Page Count: 208
- ISBN: 978-0-8135-4738-1
- Price: $21.95
Review - Do Hummingbirds Hum
Do you know how many different flowers hummingbirds visit each day? What percentage of its body weight a hummingbird's heart is? How many tail feathers hummingbirds have? How many plant species hummingbirds help pollinate? Do Hummingbirds Hum: Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds has the answers to these questions and hundreds more. While the title may initially seem simple, many complex questions are discussed in the nine chapters that cover 87 broad questions. Each of those broad questions is intricately answered, often with accompanying diagrams and illustrations, as well as references to additional questions that can provide supplemental information.
The book's brief preface establishes the credibility and expertise of its two authors – both George C. West and Carol A. Butler have extensive experience with hummingbirds and the format of this type of writing – and introduces readers to how the book is organized. Appendices cover even more information, including plants that attract hummingbirds (a list which would have been slightly more useful if it included plant hardiness zones), gardens and exhibits that are well known for both wild and captive hummingbirds, hummingbird organizations and additional reading resources and recommended websites.
It may seem overwhelming to the casual reader, but Do Hummingbirds Hum is ingeniously organized to answer each question within the first paragraph or two of an answer, and readers with only a basic interest in the information can skip the detailed analysis without feeling they have missed an answer. Furthermore, each question stands alone with its answer, and readers can pick and choose the topics that interest them the most. At times, the authors readily acknowledge where more research is needed for the most thorough answers, which can give ideas to anyone interested in further hummingbird study as a research project. In many places, answering one question raises additional questions about these tiny birds, which the authors also strive to answer.
Because of the level of detail in each answer, the original question can occasionally seem lost in the answer, and practical information for backyard birders is not always offered. Chapter Seven "Attracting and Feeding" and Chapter Eight "Identifying and Photographing" will be of most interest to backyard birders, and Chapter Nine "Research and Conservation" promotes how to protect these tiny birds so that they can continue to be studied in the future and more questions will be able to be answered.
Eight pages of photographs and color illustrations capture the beauty of more than 30 hummingbird species, giving readers a good overview of the variety that these birds represent. From the parts of a hummingbird diagram on page 2 to the feather structure diagram on page 62 to the table of North American hummingbird species on pages 122-123, more than 30 diagrams, photographs and informational tables help enhance the book's answers, and multiple informational insets provide even more related information on topics such as the co-adaptation of hummingbird and flower evolution, other nectar-drinking insects and animals and the structure of hummingbird eggs.
Author George C. West asserts that "the more we learn about a group of birds, the more diligent we become about preserving and protecting them and their habitat." After reading Do Hummingbirds Hum: Fascinating Answers to Questions about Hummingbirds, there is no birder who won't know more about these tiny birds and who won't want to continue protecting them so even more can be learned.