Tuesday, 4 December 2012


In 1974 L.M. "Buzz" Lein was Chairman of the Nipigon Museum Board.

He was great at drumming up business for the Museum. In March 1974 he came up with this attraction.

"Not long ago, the presence of Arctic Humming birds was reported from White River. I didn't think anything of it at the time because what is so unusual about an Arctic Humming bird in this country? In the latter part of December through the third week in February they simply swarm in this area. What is unusual though, is to have them reported as far south as White River."

"These tiny fragile birds originally got their name in Beardmore, Ontario. Some twenty years ago (1954) they were first observed one night when it was 74 degrees below zero. They were flying up to an overly large outdoor thermometer, clinging briefly to it while they checked the temperature. When it was down in the 70 degree bracket they could be heard giving their slow contented "Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm!" But when the mercury would zoom up to 30 below, the little things would become frantic and the "Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm" would pour forth in a rising crescendo."

"The fragile birds with their tiny bulk, great speed and poor wing control are particularly noticeable in  Beardmore-Jellicoe-Geraldton when the ice fog rolls in, heavy and opaque from Lake Nipigon. Then if you are abroad in the land and feel tiny flicks of cold on your face you have blundered into a flock of Humming birds. Since they are so small they are no threat to your health and well being."

"This has been a good winter for them as the ice worms and snow bugs have been particularly abundant."

"We had a pair in the Nipigon Museum for display in our glass fronted deep freeze but the yo-yo who was looking after them forgot to cover them one night. The temperature bolted up to 40 below and the poor things died of heat exhaustion."

"Visit the Nipigon Museum this summer and we'll show you the place where we kept them, but we won't tell you the Yp-yo's name."

Alas, the fire of 1990 destroyed even that evidence.

Bird feeder for Arctic Humming birds.
 I keep it out every winter.
 They never drink it dry.

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