Thursday, October 2, 2014

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

We seldom see very many male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Males are not monogamous and try to mate with as many females as possible, so their territorial requirements are quite different from females. We usually see them early in the season and again as they migrate out of the area in the Fall.

I have only witnessed a courtship display once that I can remember, but it was really interesting. The female was sitting in a low bush and the male was flying in a "U-shaped" pattern in front of her. He would fly 20-30 feet in the air and dive down in front of her and back up into the air over and over again.

Males use the colorful gorget on their throat to warn off other males. If you notice in the pictures, the red iridescent feathers are only visible when they are in direct line with your sight. A male will first vocalize to warn another male to leave the area. This will increase in volume if it is ignored. Then, the male will flash his gorget at the intruder. If that doesn't work, the next step is to physically assault the interloper. For such beautiful little birds, their personalities - and I am including the females here - are pretty violent.

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