Living briefs

Have you hugged someone today?

Americans enjoy a good hug and will indulge often, according to a new survey by Lever 2000.

The survey reveals that nine out of 10 Americans use hugs to show their love, while 51 percent say a warm embrace makes them feel connected and close to others. Nearly 70 percent of respondents hug someone or receive a hug more than once a day. And 45 percent say they fancy giving a hug more than receiving one.

"Hugging definitely brings people closer together," says William Cane, author of the book "The Art of Hugging." "Men and women like the warmth and sense of security they get from a hug, although women seem to be more sensitive to the emotional connection that comes with an embrace."

Here are some other warm-and-fuzzy facts:

• Sixty-four percent of women hug more than once a day, while just half of men do.

• Four out of five people have hugged on the street, in a restaurant, or on the dance floor.

• Americans' hugging habits depend on where they live. Half of Southerners say that hugging is the best way to show someone that you care. North Central residents are the least likely to dub themselves hugging experts. Thirty-seven percent of Westerners feel comfortable hugging co-workers.

Keep feeding hummingbirds

Summer is when most people notice hummingbirds, but don't give up on them in autumn. September is the perfect time to entice one or more of the 21 species of hummingbirds to your yard as they begin their annual southern migration, according to experts at the National Wildlife Federation.

Most North American hummingbirds are migratory, wintering in Mexico and Central America. They fly north in spring and go south in fall as daylight hours lessen, temperatures drop, and nectar and other food sources begin to dry up.

Migration is perilous for the little avian dynamos. Because of their size and metabolism, and the distances they have to cover, hummingbirds often face starvation on their journey, which can be more than 2,000 miles each way. The ruby-throated species has been known to fly 500 miles nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico. Many hummers must pack on fat as a portable energy source; some actually double their weight.

To prepare sugar water for a feeder, mix one part sugar to four parts boiling water. Cool before pouring into your feeder. Store the extra mix in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Change the sugar water in the feeders every five to seven days, even if no birds are visiting the site. The "nectar" can spoil quickly. Rinse the feeder thoroughly, without soap, before refilling.

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