Monday, September 21, 2015

The Molt

Probably the best time of year to find a hummingbird feather is during the molt which occurs in late summer in advance of their migration south.

I didn't consider it when I decided to take pictures late in the season, but I probably should have. The circumstances are very similar to filming flowers. You don't want to wait until they are past peak and start to show signs of decay. In the same way, the less-than-prime look of the bird with worn feathers can be distracting. Here, you can see pin feathers on her chest.

It wasn't too long before the pin feather had lost it's sheath, but now the feather was sticking out and needed to be smoothed down.

The birds seem pretty miserable when they are molting and itch all the time. As small as the birds themselves are, the tiny feathers just behind her bill are incredibly small. I think it is one of those that is falling.

She has pin feathers sticking out all over her head! Look at the tiny ones around her eyes. Before the pin feathers open, they actually have blood flow to them and the bird can lose a significant amount of blood if they are damaged.

She looks like she is wearing a pompadour, doesn't she?

Here is a good example of what I am talking about. The photo is pretty nice in all respects, but those feathers on the crown of her head become a focus of attention and a distraction. I think one thing I resolve to do next year is start a little earlier.

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