I say something like this, every year. There is something both amazing and heartbreaking about watching the hummers in the fall. Most of the adults have left already, so we are now seeing the young ones. Here are these tiny birds, no more than six-months old, who will be crossing the Gulf of Mexico soon. Every year, I watch them camp out near the feeders for several days, even a few weeks sometimes, drinking all they can, fighting to keep that spot, and getting plumper by the day. I start to recognize them. One may have a particular white shape above the eye, or an interesting pattern as the ruby-throat begins to develop. I get attached. I worry about their journey. I watch the weather vane on our neighbor’s house to see wind change. I know a steady north wind may be when they take off, if they have stored enough to get to the next place in their migration south. I know I will never know if they made it, or if they return to our area next year, but I wish them a safe journey. Click on pictures to enlarge.
After seeing very few hummingbirds in the spring, they are now at our feeders in huge numbers, plumping up for the journey south. It has been so much fun watching them. At one feeder, it seems two adult males are sharing and running everyone else off. They spar with each other, but generally let each other drink. Everyone else has to work a bit harder to get to the nectar. It is an interesting dynamic. Sometimes, it seems aggressive. Other times, it seems more like play. Only they know. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I imagine many of you are wondering where all the hummer photos are. The bees have been very busy at both the hummer and oriole feeders over the last few weeks, so I have been avoiding sitting nearby. For whatever reason, and it may have something to do with preparing for fall, the bees pretty much leave the feeders alone all summer, and then do some serious eating in August. The orioles, hummers, and bees seem to coexist pretty well and everyone eats eventually. I put out a small test-tube feeder every morning that the bees drink from, so that helps. Click on pictures to enlarge.
Hummingbirds seem to be everywhere right now, buzzing around the yard, jostling for nectar. Each year, the amount we see during migration grows. I think this is not only because we just keep planting stuff, but we are seeing the children of birds who have visited in previous years. It’s very exciting! Click on pictures to enlarge.
Every picture I post this week and next will be from the area of the Wakarusa Wetlands that will be obliterated by the SLT. I have hundreds of pictures of hundreds of species who will be displaced and/or killed by greed and indifference.
This will be gone.
Click on pictures to enlarge.
I saw some very interesting hummingbird activity this morning. Two of them were jostling over the feeder as they generally do. One was circling the other while she was drinking. I think the one circling the feeder was an immature male. Suddenly, the female left the feeder, chased the male a short distance, he dropped to the ground, and then she sat on him for a few seconds. They both got back up, she went back to drinking, he came back, and then they did it again. I ran outside because I thought it might be fighting and that I would have to take one of them to Operation Wildlife. However, they both flew up to a branch and sat about a foot away from each other for several minutes. The female flew off, but the young male stayed on the branch for a long time. I watched for a while just in case he was injured, but he came to drink, then flew away. I have never seen anything like that. The sight of one hummingbird pinning another to the ground was quite something. Curious, I did a search and it seems this behavior is not uncommon and can sometimes be quite violent. I certainly hope they don’t hurt each other!
Click on picture to enlarge.
A cold front and north winds coming in tonight will probably signal to this young one that it is time to move on. It’s been a pleasure hanging out with him for the many mornings he has been around. I was trying to guess his age since he does not have the full gorget. I read that will happen over his first winter, so he is indeed a young one. He has certainly been defending the feeder like a pro, but he has the curiosity of the young. I’ve been wondering around in the yard a few times and looked up to see him on a branch or the power line directly over my head. I wish him a safe trip south. Click on pictures to enlarge.
We put our hummingbird feeders up again and immediately received many visitors. The heat is hard on them, too. I noticed this morning one flying back and forth through the mister we have set up by the bird bath. Misters are great to use in this kind of weather as they use very little water, but they cool the air around them considerably. The birds will fly through them, or just sit under them. When it is this hot, it is also a good idea to change the nectar every day. The heat will ferment it fast and it does not help the hummers much if the nectar is making them sick. Wash the feeder out with hot water. While one should avoid any kind of detergent, a vinegar/water solution will work. Rinse the feeder well. Never buy the pre-made nectar or the mixes. Most of them contain dyes and chemicals that are harmful to hummers. Use a good fair trade sugar (the Wholesome brand is also vegan). 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of boiling water is all you need. Let it cool a bit, stick it in the fridge, and it will be good for about a week.
Click on pictures to enlarge.