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Hummingbirds Prefer Red

Nature in Santa Clarita…it’s not what you look at but what you see.

-Wendy Langhans
Scarlet bugler flowers bloom in April-June.

Earlier this week I was driving along Lake Hughes Road, north of the Santa Clarita Valley, when I spotted some brightly-colored scarlet buglers alongside the road.   So I pulled over at a safe place and went back with my camera.  I could hear “click-click” noises behind and above me and realized that the sounds were not coming from my camera.  Instead, I surmised that I was rudely interrupting a hummingbird’s late afternoon meal.


Now how did I know it was a hummingbird?  I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.  But I know scarlet bugler flowers are designed to be pollinated by hummingbirds.  Here’s why:


Scarlet bugler flowers do not have an odor and hummingbirds don’t have a strong sense of smell. 


Scarlet bugler flower are red (what a surprise?)  Hummingbirds have the ability to see colors ranging from UV to red (wavelengths ranging from 300-660 nm).  


Scarlet bugler flowers are tubular in shape and about 1 ½ inches long.  Hummingbirds have long tongues that can extend twice as long as the length of their bills, long enough to reach inside a flower that’s 1 ½ inches long.  (By the way, hummingbird tongues are not hollow like a straw but open like a trough; so hummingbirds lap rather than sip the high energy nectar from the inside of the flower.  We don’t see it, because their tongue moves at a rate of up to 12 times per second.) 


Scarlet bugler flowers are tubular in shape.

So, you see, my hummingbird theory is supported by the evidence.  Do you suppose I could get a job working for CSI Santa Clarita?



Our next Bird Hike is scheduled at Towsley Canyon on Saturday, April 21 from 8:00-10:00 AM. TowsleyCanyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.


On Saturday, April 21 at 8:00 AM, the Community Hiking Club is hosting and the MRCA is presenting a "Fire Ecology" program and easy hike at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, as part of Club's Community Nature Series. For more information contact Dianne Erskine at


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to

To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to tune in to AM 1220.

Hummingbirds Prefer Red

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