Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are the smallest of all birds and hard to mistake for any other species. This is a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Females lack the "ruby" gorget on the throat. Unless the lighting is right, you may not see the color on the male either. The iridescence is only visible at certain angles to the light.

Surprisingly, hummingbirds are only found in the Americas. There are no hummingbirds in Europe or Asia. Most photos of hummingbirds are flight shots, probably because it is so challenging to "freeze" the action of their wings. I thought I would post these photos of a hummingbird at rest which you may never have seen and which is much easier to take. You can see the iridescent feathers are not uniform. Hummingbirds are greedy little birds and will sit in a tree near their "honeypot," waiting to chase off any other hummers that show up.

My wife and I thought years ago that if we put up more pots, they would all share and get along. All it did was attract more hummingbirds and resulted in an exponential increase in fighting. They are actually more tolerant of humans standing near the feeder and, as long as you don't move, they will come in and feed (albeit warily) with you standing only a couple of feet away.

If you do feed them, don't overdo the sugar. The mix of water should be no more than 20% sugar - in other words, one part sugar to four parts water. Red food dye really isn't necessary either. The bright colors usually found on feeders are enough to attract them and, once they know where it is located, they have no trouble returning to a feeder, even after a long winter migration.

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