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Countdown! Hummer Eggs to Fledglings

Answers to Countdown Challenge Questions
Part II: Questions #9 to #14

Discussion of Challenge Question #9 (Day 2A):
What are at least two things that baby hummingbirds CAN do as soon as they hatch out?

From the time they dry off, baby hummers can hold up their heads and open their mouths to beg for food, and as soon as they swallow, they can poop. Right now they're still pretty tired and weak, but by tomorrow they'll start backing up a little so they can poop over the nest rim. Even that little job is pretty hard work at first! It's not much of a life, but by the time they're nine days old and their eyes open, baby hummers are starting to learn that there's a lot more to life!

Discussion of Challenge Question #10 (Day 2B):
"What is a reason why most birds don't grow feathers over their whole bodies but only in tracts?"

Except for a very few birds like penguins, who swim in VERY cold water, most birds don't need to grow feathers over their whole bodies. One individual feather is a lot wider than one hair, and can cover a bigger space on a bird's body than one individual hair can cover on a mammal's body. But feathers take a lot of energy to produce. To save energy, birds produce just enough outer feathers to completely cover their bodies when the feathers are groomed properly. An adult hummingbird has only about 940 feathers on its whole body. That's many fewer feathers than an adult mouse has hairs!

Discussion of Challenge Question #11 (Day 3A):
Why do human eyelids show more of the eye than a bird's eyelids show?

Human eyeballs can turn and roll to see up and down and to both sides. Our eyelids are shaped as they are so that our eyes can still see when they move side to side. Also, when birds fly, the rush of air has a drying effect. To protect their eyes from drying out, they cover as much of the eye as possible behind skin and feathers. And bird eyes can't roll like our eyes do. Because their eyes are much more "fixed" in the socket, there's no need to have eyelids made for turning eyes from side to side. Birds can't open their eyes any wider than their pupil and iris.

Discussion of Challenge Question #12 (Day 3b):
While still blind, how do baby hummers know when their mother has returned with food?

They can feel the wind from her wings on their skin, and they can hear the little "mew" call she makes to them.

Discussion of Challenge Question #13 (Day 4):
What things can you find in your classroom or home that are about the size of this hummingbird nest?

Answers will vary.

Discussion of Challenge Question #14 (Day 5):

What DO hummer babies have that helps them stay warm when Mom is away?

They have each other! If you could hold them in your hand, their bare skin would feel hot against your skin. They nestle against each other and the thick walls and bottom of their nest. This helps their body heat stay in their own bodies and they share heat with each other.

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