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Archilochus colubris – Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

September 3, 2012

We finally hung a hummingbird feeder a week ago and to our surprise, it was discovered within an hour. As you can see from the pictures below, it happened so quickly I hadn’t even taken the ladder back down yet.

At times there are four or more hummingbirds in the area, usually one guarding the feeder, one who approaches the feeder and is chased off, plus one or more that take advantage of the very temporarily unguarded feeder and quickly snatch a snack to go. Chaos on wings unfolds as this continues until dusk every day, with many squeals, squeaks and high pitched “shrees” attached.

One little guy seems to have staked the primary claim to the feeder. He is seems perpetually perched in the lower branches of the pecan tree 20 feet away, ready to instantly and aggressively run off any approaching interlopers. He tends to stay on the perch drinking longer than any of the others demonstrating the “Possession is 9/10ths of ownership” axiom.

What is he? (And is it a he?)

The answer: It is a male, an immature Ruby-Throated Hummingbird male who is closing in on his first annual molt. They have green backs and “gray-white underpants” as one site explained, plus white tips on their tail feathers. The mature males have vivid ruby feathers covering their entire throat; in August and September the young males “can” get a small ruby spot on their throats just prior to their first molt. The molt replaces 100% of the hummingbirds’ feathers and the full “ruby-izing” of the throat takes place at that time.

At least that’s what the wide-world-inter-web has informed me this morning. Regardless, doing nothing or very little while in a “hummingbird war” induced trance seems to be a good way to pass an hour or two.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2012 4:46 pm

    Great shots!!! You should certify your Wildlife Garden w/ the National Wildlife Federation: http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify-Your-Wildlife-Garden.aspx Your garden is a perfect representation of that!

    • September 6, 2012 9:24 pm

      Will they let me still mow what remains of my lawn? šŸ˜‰

  2. Clay permalink
    September 4, 2012 4:37 pm

    Great pictures……………….that guy looks like a tough little hombre. Just look at the look in his eye.

    • September 4, 2012 4:39 pm

      Yeah I was glad I had the window in between us šŸ˜‰

  3. September 22, 2012 4:40 pm

    So intriguing. Thanks so much for sharing your interests & talents.

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