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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Waitin' on the Hummers


I put out my hummingbird feeders yesterday. This year, I put out four feeders. Three are on the deck near the sliding doors (where I can see them from inside) and the other one is in the front yard--near the roses. I have enjoyed the hummingbirds for several years---LONG before I got interested in backyard birds.

Here on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, we mostly get Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Occasionally, we get Rufous Hummingbirds ---but not often. It took me a long time to learn that the female Ruby-throated looks very different from the male, just like my bird friends.


The Ruby is about 3 3/4 inches long. Weighing about a nickel, he/she can briefly reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. WOW!!! In straight-ahead flight, hummingbirds beat their wings up to 80 times per second, and their hearts can beat up to 1200 times per minute. (It's no wonder they don't have a weight problem!!! ha)


Hummingbirds are among the few birds that can fly both vertically and in reverse. The Rubys migrate across the Gulf of Mexico ---a nonstop 500 mile journey. These birds 'winter' in Central America. The male Ruby has a black chin, a dark tail and a ruby red throat. The female Ruby has an iridescent green back and a fine, dark streaking on the white throat.


The thing I notice about our Rubys is that they belligerently defend their food sources in their territory. The 'bully' --as George calls him---stays up in a nearby tree and when any other hummer comes to the feeder, he buzzes down and runs them off.


The Rubys do not form pairs. The male and female meet for mating, and then the female nests and raises the young ones ALONE. (Shame on him!!!)
Above and below are some hummingbird photos taken by us over the last few years. I can't wait 'til this year's group get here!!!!! When they do, I'm sure I'll share some pictures with you!!!!

































Aren't these tiny little birds just amazing???? I hope all of you enjoy them as much as I do. Have a wonderful day today!
Hugs,

41 comments:

ROSIDAH said...

Wow, that is such a lovely idea! I wonder if we have feeders like these here. I will search for them. My kids will love this. Well, actually I would too :). Does this mean that all of the snow has already melted? I sure hope so, because I can't wait to see your garden in full bloom. Hugs from Indonesia :)

Kallen305 said...

Great pictures of one of my favorite birds! I can't wait until they start eating in your yard so I can see more photos! We have another month or so before they come up north.

Mary said...

They are amazing, Betsy. The hummingbirds are the highlight of summer for me. I saw the first one on April 9 and look forward to a small army of them! (hopefully).

Mary

Michele said...

Hi Betsy. I love the hummingbirds too and think they are amazing little fellas and ever so pretty!
I do hope you get many little visitors to your feeders!

I'm doing ok, just so tired after work and it makes it so hard to blog like I used to. But I still have had no seizures and that makes for Day 25! The meds are working but I pray that I soon will not be as sleepy as I feel now!

Hugs to you both and I wish you both a safe trip.

T said...

I'm so impressed.....I"ve never been able to get a picture of one just sitting stil!

They are lovely and we are going to be putting our feeders out here in the next few weeks.

Jayne said...

They are here in full force Betsy, so it won't be long, they'll be up on the plateau. BTW, you don't have to use the red mixes that are sold in stores, and many people think that the red coloration is not good for the hummers. Simply use a four parts water to one part sugar solution (1/4 cup sugar to one cup water). I boil around 6-8 cups, add my sugar to dissolve, then let it cool and put it into a 2L coke bottle in the frig. It keeps for days.

Abe Lincoln said...

I don't think you mentioned it in your writeup but the male, Ruby-throated Hummingbird can turn on and off his red throat patch. He will flash it on if another comes in his territory and they flash it to attract females. Sometimes you can see a young male with one or two feathers on his throat that are red. I guess there is a learning curve if you want to flash properly. I love these little birds and have more photos of them than any other with the possible exception of hawks.

Nice post. You certainly inspired me to get moving on the feeders as the birds begin to arrive here in May, usually. This has been a cold and wet spring and that might put them off for a while.

I try to do some things that are inspirational in some way. Not always successful. Gobsmacks

Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks for the reminder and the cool pictures. I have a lot of honey suckle on my fence line and I spot them there first, then come the feeders. I put out three feeders and have at least 30 regular visitors though it is hard to count those fast moving buggers. I may be counting the same ones more than once. I buy so much sugar that I am afraid I will be reported as a possible moonshiner. Happy Hummer hunting.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh, how I love hummingbirds...they are so cute. Surely you will not have any fighting going on with FOUR feeders. You will be very popular this season. ;)

Rose said...

I think hummingbirds are so beautiful!

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Great captures of your hummingbirds. I'm still trying to get a decent picture of the ones who come to our feeder.I have lots of photos of blurs.

Susie said...

We've already had hummers returning to us. Just this a.m. there was one out there having a great time. I'm so glad to see them back!

marmee said...

betsy,
we also put out our hummingbird nectar yesterday. we saw a bird earlier in the day looking for it. it is so exciting when they return. i love watching them flit around. they love my wildflower garden.
happy springtime to you.

Jen said...

I love love love them!
The earliest I've seen them here is April 26th. I think I'll get my feeders out today too! :)
Happy Hummming to you.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Looks like your Hummers are well fed.I too am waiting for our,but it will be at least another month before we can expect them.
Blessings,Ruth

Cedar ... said...

Our hummers arrive just after May 1st. If I haven't got the window feeder out I've had hummers come to the window and flutter around waiting for it. So I guess they come back to the same place year after year and remember where the feeders were placed from the previous year. Sitting on my deck can be a war zone with several of them dive-bombing around the feeders!

Mary said...

I do love the hummers...such beauty in such a tiny package. I hate cleaning and filling the feeders however.

Judy said...

Thanks so much. I loved the pictures. These little birds just fascinate me. I used to try and catch one when I was a child.

Darla said...

Well let me just tell you...we have the biggest Ruby bully of all time around here! He just dive bombs whatever gets in his way. The feeder is just above the left of my glider chair on the front porch (where I spend a lot of time) I wonder what the neighbors think when they see me ducking all the time from the hummers headed for my head! and......don't wear a red shirt.

HalfCrazy said...

Glad to know so much about the Hummingbirds! Really interesting facts! What amazed me the most is how fast they can fly and travel nonstop!

Really glad you caught some nice photos of them!

Smilingsal said...

I love them.

Pigeon said...

I love hommingbirds too. I haven't used a feeder for them yet, but every year I hang baskets of fuchia on my porch, which they like to visit. They also visit my phlox which blooms around here in June.

Diane C. said...

Hi Betsy, We can see hummers year-round in Tucson. It must be exciting for you to see them for the first time each year. I can't wait to see more pictures of your little darlings!

Mildred said...

I love the hummers. They were my dad's favorite to watch. We had a huge lantana plant near the window and the hummers would entertain daddy for hours. Very sweet pictures dear Betsy.

Bird Girl said...

I think everyone loves hummingbirds - they are just such amazing little creatures! And yes... the females does all that work by herself...I sometimes wonder how she stays still long enough to sit on eggs! Can't wait for mine to arrive!

Beth said...

Great pictures, Betsy! You did well to capture the little critters---I've never once gotten a decent shot. I've just put up my feeder, too and am eagerly awaiting my hummer friends.

By the way, I've had them come right up to me, eyeball to eyeball, when I've worn a flowered shirt. Those beaks look mighty sharp up close! :-)

Deborah Godin said...

Not quite time up here yet, but it won't be long. Meanwhile, I can get the feeders out of storage and clean them up. Since moving here I haven't put them out, but last year I did see a female visit the planter on my front porch, so this year I'll do the feeders as well. Ruby's are the only one we get in this area, I'll miss all my western visitors, but any hummer is a joy to watch.

Diane said...

Nice shots, Betsy. Hope you get a lot of them this summer. They're the most amazing little birds.

The Whites said...

I LOVE hummingbirds! I'll be getting my feeders out soon!

Mandy

Tina said...

Betsy,
Right now I'm looking at your sunshiny pictures and being envious of all those warm rays!! We have had rain for two days with very cool temps and I have to say I am anxious for Spring to arrive and stay!!
I did drag out my hummer feeders but set them aside until it gets a little more steady in temps!
Here's hoping yours arrive soon and give you some great poses for some posting pics!! :)

NCmountainwoman said...

We saw our first one last week, so you should see them soon.

fishing guy said...

Betsy: I love the hummers and they move so quickly. They put on quite the show.

Kathleen said...

Yes... I could sit and watch them for hours!!
(((HUGS))) to you too!!
~Kathleen

Wendy said...

I absolutely love hummers. We have a feeder right outside our kitchen window, where we can watch them as we eat. It's a bit too early for them yet. I put the feeder out in early May.

In the native american tradition, the hummingbird brings joy. I can vouch for that!
Hugs

Leedra said...

I think alot of people start with hummingbirds, then it just kind of branches out from there.

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dot said...

The hummers have been here for several weeks so they should be at your place soon. We really enjoy watching them.

Tootie said...

I loved this post, Betsy! I used to have so many of these tiny birds when living in IN. I remember one of them flew right into my LR window. It fell on the ground and just layed there. I thought it was dead. My youngest Grand Daughter was there and she wanted to pick it up because she thought it would be ok. We put it in a little basket and carried it inside the garage. She sat there in the floor watching it for around 20 minutes and all of a sudden it opened it's eyes, looked at her and flew out of the basket. She hurried to open the garage door and it flew out. Of course then I heard, 'See Mammaw'? She still reminds me of that. :-)

Aleta said...

Hi, Betsy-

First of all, you won my giveaway - the scarf! Congrats! I know you are gone and so you won't get the news until Tuesday. When you get back, just e-mail me your address.

Secondly, our hummingbirds returned on Monday the 13th. At least that is when Doug first saw it; I was out of town and he doesn't watch as closely as I do, so they may have arrived earlier. We have only seen one so far, but by the end of the summer, we'll have DOZENS! Your photos are lovely! What do you feed them? We use one part water to 4 parts sugar, boil for about a minute, then let cool of course before putting it in the feeders. It lasts for a week or so in the fridge. We do that because we have heard that the red food they sell in stores has the potential for causing birth defects in the birds, and they don't need the red coloring in the food to draw them in. I go through bags and bags of sugar from Sam's Club in the summertime! :)
Happy birding!!

Daisy said...

I love to watch the hummingbirds. Such beautiful little creatures. I hope you have many come to visit you.

Eve said...

I can't wait to put feeders out at our new home Betsy! I just cant wait to see the birds I'm going to get! This was fun!

Gena said...

I love the hummingbirds. I don't have my feeders out yet. Guess I need to do that. My Ollie got me a new one, still in the box.
I love watching all the birds.