Hummingbirds and Humans

When we bought our Littleton, Colorado, farm, that section of the Front Range urban corridor was still semi-rural.  Broad-tailed hummingbirds would stop by in spring and fall, on their way to and from their breeding grounds in the foothills and lower mountains.  No doubt, their habits were established when the Colorado Plains and Piedmont were covered by semi-arid grasslands, broken by wetlands and stands of cottonwood and willows along the South Platte and its tributaries.

Over the years, as humans have modified the region with urban parks, suburban landscapes and other irrigated habitats, the Piedmont has become more attractive to many species of wildlife, including broad-tailed hummingbirds.  The availability of water sources, feeders and, most importantly, a wide variety of flowering plants, have encouraged these energetic summer residents to expand their range; while they can still be found in the foothills and at mountain resorts, broad-tailed hummingbirds have become increasingly common on our farm, which is now hemmed in by suburban developments.  Indeed, at least a dozen can be observed early and late in the day, zooming about the property while delivering their high-pitched calls.

Such relationships between humans and wildlife are common.  Unfortunately, in many cases, we have a negative impact, destroying natural habitat by clearing forests, draining wetlands, damming rivers and plowing prairies.  In some cases, however, our activity favors certain species of wildlife and hummingbirds appear to like the modified landscapes of human society.