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Sam Alfano >
Did you notice?
These hovering hummingbirds seem to be eating out of someone's hand!

What's the Story?
Abigail Alfano, who lives in Louisiana, wondered what it would feel like to touch a hummingbird. So she hatched a plan.

  1. For a few days in mid-September, she stood next to the hummingbird feeder, hoping the birds would get used to seeing her.

  2. Next, she put her hand on the feeder, so the rubythroats would have to land on her fingers if they wanted to drink. "I was amazed at how quickly they did this," says Abigail.

  3. Next, she filled a small red cap with sugar water and left it near the feeder. They began to drink from it.

  4. Another day, she put the nectar-filled cap in her hand and sat very still. Here's what happened: "Within ten minutes, they were resting in my hands, drinking," says Abigail. "It was sheer delight for me! They are light as a feather . . . and simply beautiful. "

Some things we still wonder. How can we find answers?
Look at our questions, below. Also make a list of your questions on chart paper. Write one or more numbers next to each question to show how you think it could be answered:

    1. By experimenting or observing
    2. By asking the observer
    3. By reading or asking an expert

    Our Questions
  • Would other rubythroats be likely to eat out of a hand, or was this a special case? (Perhaps these were just extra hungry or feeding up for their long fall trip across the Gulf of Mexico. Or perhaps this was the only food source for miles.)

  • Would rubythroats also come to a blooming red flower that someone held in his or her hand?

  • Are rubythroats naturally curious and unafraid of humans?

Did you know . . . ?
Scientists have discovered that hummingbirds can easily learn about new food sources they've never seen before. They do this, in part, by watching other hummingbirds. That's good news! This helps them find food on long migrations, and it helps them better adapt to habitats that we humans have changed.