Monday, June 20, 2016

Burn and rave

The sun set – technically – just moments ago here, at 9:03pm Pacific. That ends the longest day of the year, clocking in at 15 hours and 41 minutes. Starting tomorrow, we'll lose a second or two of daylight every day, and regular p3 readers know I'll be able to feel every second of daylight we won't get.

By mid-September we'll be losing around three minutes of daylight every day.

 And I don't really even want to think about what happens after that.
When hummingbirds sleep, they go into a hibernation-like state called Torpor (pronounces TOR-per). This is a really deep sleep. Their metabolism will lower to one-fifteenth (1/15) of normal. Their body temperature will drop to the point of becoming hypothermic. Their heart rate will drop to about 50 beats per minute. Their breathing will slow to the point that it looks like they have stopped breathing. By sleeping like this, hummingbirds can save up to 60% of their available energy. […]

It takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour for a hummingbird to fully recover from torpor. Once they are up and about, the first order of business is food. The hummingbirds will eat 25% of their daily intake as soon as they recover from torpor.

Hummingbirds that are very weak have been known not to survive Torpor. And while this is very sad, it is a part of the natural process. However, hummingbirds need to sleep, just like the rest of us and by going into Torpor, their bodies are just that much more efficient.
"Have been known not to survive," my sainted Aunt Gertrude. Torpor -- or, more accurately, the failure to re-emerge from it -- is what eventually gets every hummingbird that wasn't gotten by predators or glass patio doors.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go out there and rage against the dying of the light.

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