Hummingbirds in Colombia
'Through the Lens', Fujingaho Magazine, October 2014
Photos and text: Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado
English Translation: Asia Club, WBSJ Volunteer Group (ONISHI Takaya, KASE Tomoko)
The World Cup was held in Brazil this year, and I visited South America as the Honorary President of Japan Football Association to support the Japan national football team and to show our gratitude to the local people. It was unfortunate our team could not perform as they wished at the grand stage in spite of the excellent head coach. I am looking forward to seeing how the new head coach will develop the Japan national football team through far-seeing training hereafter.
I arrived in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, on the next day of the Greece match, and observed Colombian Football Federation’s training center with the guide of the Minister of Sports. Considering that Bogota is located at altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level, I have a feeling that I understood the secret of Colombian players’ strong physical abilities.
Colombia has lush greenery; in bird’s-eye view, it looks as though clouds are gushing out from mountains which means the humidity is high. The verdant forest was very impressive. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries of the world; the latest data shows 1,827 species of birds, of which 77 are recorded as endemic.
Just one year ago, I introduced a photo of Anna’s Hummingbird taken in Canada with the title of “Wishing for reunion”. The Buprestidae-like iridescent shine of Hummingbirds’ scaly feathers is generated by optical refraction, and is called structural color. In sunshine, a male’s head of an Anna’s Hummingbird looks beautiful rose pink. Unluckily, as it was raining that day the feather color was gray. I expressed in last year’s text my wish that someday I shall come again to see that beautiful color of the Anna’s Hummingbird.
This time, in Colombia, I was able to encounter many different types of Hummingbirds under a clear blue sky. At the “Enchanted Garden” of a lady named Ms. Leonora, I spent a few hours just as though I was spell bound. She, a hummingbird lover, set up a feeder with sugar water at a corner of her garden 37 years ago. Now there are 40 of them in a row. Cleansing all the feeders everyday and changing the sugar water three times a day, is a considerably strenuous work. In addition, she has planted many trees with flowers which hummingbirds like. Thanks to such efforts by her, 27 species out of the 365 in the world have been recorded here.
Hummingbirds are the smallest of all the birds. Since they flutter their wings at high speed with bee-like buzz, one can easily notice their approach. This high speed fluttering consumes energy rapidly, and since it requires them to be light body, they cannot store energy in them. Thus, hummingbirds have no way other than to continuously and fervently seek flowers and suck nectars. This garden is the “Enchanted Garden” for them as well. I was of course happy to be able to take photos of the hummingbirds, but more heartwarming was a happy encounter with Ms. Leonora who watched over the visiting hummingbirds with gentle gaze.