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No. 97: Jan-Feb 1995

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The early (and persistent) insect catches the bird!

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are spunky little bundles of avian energy. They attack crows and hawks routinely, even though they weigh no more than three dollar bills (about 3 grams). They are not weaklings, for they cross the 800-kilometer (500-mile) Gulf of Mexico non-stop. But they are, it must be admitted, so small that a burly insect might subdue one. And this has happened at least once.

"Mrs. Elly Weirda of Rock Hall, Maryland. was watching her hummingbird feeder when she noticed a large praying mantis sitting on top of it. As the hummingbirds approached, it appeared as if the praying mantis was actually stalking them. This continued all day, but the hummingbirds safely eluded the clutches of the praying mantis. When the praying mantis was still on top of the hummingbird feeder the next day, Mrs. Weirda decided to capture the unusual activity on film. She quickly set up her camera and waited. As fate would have it. the praying mantis' persistence paid off. The unexpected did happen, and Mrs. Weirda captured the humming-bird's struggle on film. The amazing thing about this strange event is that the praying mantis consumed the entire hummingbird. Only a few feathers were left as witness to the struggle."

(Anonymous; "'Insect Tiger' Strikes Hummingbird," Wild Bird News, no. 5, September/October 1994.)

From Science Frontiers #97, JAN-FEB 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss