SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Launching himself at dusk from the coastal jungle of the Yucatan, this ruby-throated hummingbird has just alighted on South Padre Island after an arduous 500-mile nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico.

This thumb-sized bird, weighing only 1/10th of an ounce, almost the exact weight of a penny, has flown in solitude for some 20 hours thru the dark of night straight across the vast swath of ocean.

With wings fluttering at some 24 beats per second, the tiny hummer desperately scanned the horizon for landfall, before finally completing the first leg of its marathon journey.

As he rests on a twig, the diminutive bird catches his breath and refuels before continuing his northward migration which may eventually take him more than 2,000 miles to breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada.

Probing spring buds of a native tepeguaje in southernmost Texas, this Tennessee warbler has also just flown across the Gulf of Mexico.

The warbler has been wintering in Central and South America and is seeking sustenance before winging it to breeding grounds in the coniferous forests of Canada and Alaska.

Joining these intrepid travelers at the southernmost tip of Texas is a plethora of colorful songbirds from Indigo buntings to vibrant Baltimore orioles.

As the 52nd annual Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, one cannot help but marvel at this extraordinary annual winged migration spanning the borders of many countries.

This Western tanager alighting in a Rio Grande Valley retama may spend 80 days in Canada’s boreal forests, 30 days in the United States, and 200 days in Mexico and Central America.

Migratory birds are a shared resource among nations, and as this Earth Day’s theme intones, “Invest in our Planet,” habitat must be conserved across their entire migratory pathway to ensure continued survival for future generations.