Hummingbirds At The Feeder

Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are marvelous tiny creatures. They arrive in the eastern half of the U.S. in the spring from over-wintering in Central America. We keep track of their progress toward eastern Iowa with Hummingbird Central. Users input the date of first sightings in the spring. Some hummingbirds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico for hundreds of miles. Wings flap an average of 53/sec. They flap up to 3 million times during the long flight.

They will be departing our area by late September. We will miss them. Here are an adult male and an adult female borrowed from the All About Birds Macaulay Library.

Adult Male|©Ian Davies|All About Birds|Macaulay Lib

Adult Female|©Cathy Pondelicek|All About Birds|Macaulay Lib

Lately, activity has really increased around our feeder. They are storing up energy for their long journey south. There are several hummingbirds contesting drinking rights. It is fun to watch them dart in to the feeder, perch, look around, and get some swallows of the sugar water. A juvenile male with a couple of dark neck feathers hangs out a lot. Drinking often has to be done quickly because another will come zooming by to chase them off the perch. How can they expect to store energy when they are chasing each other so often?

I recently set up the camera to record their actions during two mornings. The video was edited to remove dead time and slow down some of the quickest sequences. It lasts about 4 minutes. Some highlights to watch for include…

  • (0-12s)  One rests quietly drinking
  • (12-17)  Two chase each other
  • (17-48)  One sits nervously, neck stretch (32s), lands again and chased away (45s)
  • (49-1:09)  One comes fast from right, lands, chased away
  • (1:09-2:17)  1st lands, drinks, 2nd nears (1:25), 1st waves 2nd (1:44), chases 2nd
  • (2:18-2:29)  One approaches, lands and drinks, flies away
  • (2:30-2:46)  One approaches, doesn’t land, chased away
  • (2:47-4:07)  One approaches, bee moves to left (3:08), bird lands, bee returns slowly to feeder, bird drinks quietly, poops (3:56), flies away



12 thoughts on “Hummingbirds At The Feeder

    1. Jim R Post author

      You should get a feeder. You and they will enjoy it. I mix a cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar each week for them. It is easy and entertaining. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. tierneycreates

    Oh I thought you took that amazing photo of the hummingbird! They are such amazing creatures and I love watching them feed at the hanging baskets on our front porch. Your filming was very cool!

    1. Jim R Post author

      Thank you so much for those kind words. I could never get the little things to stop moving long enough to get a good picture like those from All About Birds. I’m glad you stopped by.

  2. shoreacres

    This very week the annual hummingbird festival is taking place down in Rockport, Texas. The migration’s begun, and I’m hearing more and more people talking about the number of birds they’re seeing. Thanks for helping to prep them for their journey!


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