Calling all hummingbirds: Meet the Bird Woman of Ball Hollow

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By Ron Benningfield

You’ve perhaps heard of the Bird Man of Alcatraz. Dotty Coleman is fast becoming the Bird Woman of Ball Hollow.

Coleman, who lives off Pleasant Church Road, is into hummingbirds – really into them.

“Most nights in the early evening, I’ll see 25 of them or so at one time, but that isn’t even the busiest time,” she said.

She has 10 feeders from which the birds sip the homemade nectar of one part sugar to three parts water.

“I mix the sugar and hot water in quart jars, then pour it into the feeders,” she said. “I’ll go through 10 pounds of sugar in a week.”

She even has one returnee who buzzes her whenever she puts the nectar into the feeders.

Coleman, who moved to LaRue County from Mississippi in 2001, almost didn’t start her hummingbird hobby.

“I have cats and I just knew they would kill those little birds,” she said. But a friend, Vernon Coleman, allayed her fears, telling her that her felines weren’t quick enough to catch the little creatures that weigh no more than a couple of paper clips.

“You know, he was right,” she said. “All that my cats do is watch those birds feeding and sometimes duck when a bird buzzes them.”

Coleman’s favorite way to relax is to sit in her easy chair on her front porch and take pleasure in the daily feeding frenzy that usually starts in April and winds down in August when the birds prepare to migrate to Mexico and Central America.

“It’s just so much enjoyment to me,” she said. “I just love to sit here and watch.”

The facts about the small birds are also amazing. According to information on the Internet, the hummingbird (the one that breeds in Kentucky is the Ruby Throated) cruises at about 27 miles per hour and can reach 60 mph in a dive.

It is the smallest of all animals with a backbone. Its wings beat 60-80 times per second, causing the hum that gives the three-inch bird its name.

Because of its wing structure, it’s the only bird that can hover and even move backward.