I was at the museum on Wednesday, 1/25/12, and she was still there, feeding on the same flowers and looking good.
She made it through some patches of rough January weather--the snow, the downpour, and the high winds. Okay, lesson I'm learning is that a tiny bird from the West can deal with NYC winter, given that she has access to food.
At night this presents a problem because it is unable to gather food to feed its high metabolism. But there is a solution: Hummingbirds have evolved a biological mechanism called torpor, during which the body almost shuts down completely. In fact if you came across a hummingbird in torpor, you would mistake it for dead. Click here for a great article that describes torpor in more detail, and why torpor helps hummingbirds survive during cold nights as well as periods of time when there is not enough food.
I'd like to thank Rena Schilsky for a wonderful conversation while we were bird watching, and for her donation to NYC Nature. We both hope our friend from the West does well on her own, and will use the bird feeder provided to her at AMNH if and when nectar from the Mahonia flowers runs out. I will provide updates on this adventurous lady from the West as the winter progresses, so please come back again!