After encouragement from Al, I am starting a topic on Hummingbirds. Let this be a place to post actual photographs (not pictures from the internet) of hummingbirds that you, friends, or family have taken in your area or areas that you have visited. It would be helpful to add descriptions/information for a particular bird the first time that you post that bird as I have below. I am starting out with a photograph of an adult male Ruby-Throated hummingbird that I photographed in my own backyard. These birds are common in the South and Eastern parts of the USA and breed here. They arrive as early as March-April and stay until mid October when the migrate south for the winter to Central and South America. They are most frequently seen during Late July into August-September when they feed frequently to add weight for their upcoming long migration.
This Ruby-Throataed hummingbird was photographed on August 7,2015. This feeder is recomended by the Audubon society in that it has perches so that the birds can perch while feeding and not spend their energy hovering above the feeder; in addition the all red color keeps yellow jackets and other stinging insects from being attracted (to yellow). Below is a photo taken with my Cannon camera and zoom image. I will be adding more photographs as I am successful.
Below is a description of the Ruby-Throated hummingbird and the differences between the males, females, and immature birds.
Last edited by RB2sMom on August 9th, 2015, 6:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
This new topic is such a good idea – thanks RB2 and Al for the encouragement!
I have never seen a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, but I love the information and photos you have posted, and look forward to more.
We have two species of hummingbirds here: the Anna's which remain all year, overwintering since climate change has brought warmer winters, and the migrant Rufous Hummingbirds.
The Rufous Hummingbirds were the first ones I ever saw here on Vancouver Island. They arrived in early April after their long journey from Mexico, and made their feisty presence known, darting around, sampling the flowering currants, claiming their territory and chasing off other hummingbirds. For three years in a row we had a tiny nest in our clematis vine growing over the garage doors, and two tiny eggs were laid (the size of tic tac breath mints). One year we were fortunate enough to see the two chicks fledge.
Because of their speed hummers are difficult to capture on camera, but over the years I have managed to get a few videos and photos. I will try to collect a few photos and videos to post here.
Here's a short video I made, for starters!
Last edited by vanislander on August 9th, 2015, 11:59 am, edited 2 times in total.
Clear photos of the hummers I see in my yard are few and far between! They are usually taken through the windows (which are not very clean). Also, the iridescent colours, especially of the male’s gorget, are often not very visible if they don’t catch the light.
Early male Rufous Hummingbird arrival – sitting in bare branches. But his lovely orange-brown colour lights up those bare branches.
His gorget looks dark brown here – but it would be a vivid flash of light if I could only capture it when he turns his head.
The female Rufous is much plainer looking.
Female Rufous pausing at the feeder, in the rain.
Edited to add that I was mistaken - the last two pictures are of a female Anna's hummingbird.
Last edited by vanislander on August 17th, 2015, 5:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Great pictures and video vanislander!!! Great to get pictures and video on different hummingbirds from another part of the continent.
I notice you had a yellow jacket or other hymenoptera of some type on your feeder. If you use an all red feeder, the yellow jackets and other flying insects will not come to the feeder as they are only attracted to yellow. I had one previously with yellow on it, and had to go to an all red Audubon feeder after getting 18 yellow jacket stings.
Ruby throated hummingbird showing his emerald green back.
Hummingbird food is easy to prepare. While there are commercial nectar and vitamin mixtures, the Audubon society recommends mixing 1/4 cup sugar with 1 cup water. Change food every 2-3 days to avoid spoiling and mold growth. Use an ant guard (most feeders have them built in).....a moat of water to keep ants from getting to the food; hummingbirds do not like to dine with ants.
This is a distribution map of the ruby throated hummingbird.
I have to confess that I often cannot tell who is who at my humming bird feeders. The females are hard to tell apart for me. So I'm letting you know that there is every chance that I mislabel some of my photos. I do know that I only see Rufous hummers between April and August, and Anna's all year round.
RB2 - thanks for info about the feeders - I have had several different ones over the years, but have settled with the ones in the videos for a few reasons. Mainly, we are in a very windy location beside the ocean and we actually have, on occasion, attached weights to our feeders to prevent them swinging too freely in the heavy winds we get from time to time. (Currently summer diurnals can get very strong - and in the winter the storms that blow in are quite fierce). Another reason we were unsuccessful with the kind of feeder you have is that they never seemed to hang straight and the 'nectar' would drip out.
Ease of cleaning a feeder is important too, and I have settled into my routine for cleaning this type of feeder. We subsequently added an ant 'moat', as they were becoming a problem. But the bees and wasps are sometimes an issue!
The video and photos below were taken in May a couple of years ago. There is a bumble bee hanging beneath the feeder. This feeder is filled every second day and was either leaking a little or had a trace of some of the sugary mixture on it!
Those Rufous hummingbirds are feisty - and the little bumblebee didn't appear to phase them one bit!
Incidentally, the background noises in that video are of a little native red squirrel, high up in the neighbour's fir tree, complaining bitterly about the crows, I think. They had been very active around our other bird feeders, and the little fellow felt threatened, I guess, when they ousted him.
As mentioned earlier, we see fewer and fewer Rufous hummingbirds now, but the Anna's are always around. The following video shows the difference between the male Anna's and a male Rufous, whose photos I posted earlier.
I often watch the hummers through the kitchen window - as I clean up the supper dishes. Hummingbirds often come to the feeders in the early morning and in the evening, which is when I am most likely to see them. The males especially sit on the clothes line (we have one of those multi stringed rotary twirly clothes lines) watching over the nearest feeder to my kitchen window. Often a female joins him and sometimes she seems as though she is trying to entice him to leave - displaying in front of him and buzzing off and returning right away. But he stays put - puffed up and primping and flashing his brilliant head and throat. If any other hummer goes to the feeder, he dives at it and sees it off.
He looks a little scruffy in this video from a couple of years back, where he is preening. Interesting to see that he uses his tongue occasionally during preening. Video is a little hazy-looking as it was taken through a not-too-clean kitchen window. (And I never knew how grubby those white lines were until I saw them zoomed in!) You'll see what I mean if you view the video full screen!
This male Anna's reveals his amazing iridescence in his other feathers, as he preened in our plum tree mid-winter 2014.
As I said earlier, I often have difficulty telling the female hummingbirds apart. I now realize that in my earlier post I incorrectly identified a female Rufous Hummingbird. (The hummingbird in the rain was actually a female Anna's!)
Below is what I am pretty sure is a female Rufous, followed by a short video, taken at around the same time.
By comparison, this is the female Anna's taken the same day at the same feeder.
Note that we had to put that wire mesh against the window because this feeder is our most popular one, and too many hummers would zoom towards it, often engaging in territorial conflict, especially those aggressive little Rufous males. We didn't want them to smash directly into the window, unaware of the glass.
The earlier posted photo of the hummingbird in the rain was taken when I made this little video a couple of years ago. I can now see that it is a female Anna's. (I guess I am getting more used to telling them apart now).