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Humming Along

I spent an indolent morning watching ruby-throated hummingbirds this morning. Male Ruby-throated HummingbirdI ate breakfast, then went out onto the patio with my camera. I sat down and propped my feet up. The humid air was warm, but there was a bit of a breeze and it wasn't uncomfortable. Many ruby-throated hummingbirds show up in our garden from July through October as they fly through on their way to the Yucatan coast for the winter. 

I breathed in the moist air and listened to the bugs and the many bird calls. Once upon a time, as I was recovering from an operation, I sat and recorded the bird species I could see by watching through the front windows. I counted eighteen different species in one day. The total number of bird species recorded at nearby Aldridge Gardens is 97, the last I heard. The official field check list of Alabama birds lists 433 species, including those who migrate through the state. Amongst all those birds, hummingbirds may be the most entertaining and also the most challenging to photograph!The prominent dots on the throat identifies this ruby-throated hummingbird as a juvenile male.The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings an average of 52 times per second and can move much faster than my pitiful reflexes. There are 320 different species of hummingbirds, and they each make a different humming sound, determined by how fast their wings beat.

The images in this post are my best efforts over almost two hours today. I did not stress over getting photos, however. I was outside to enjoy the morning until rising summer vapors drove me back into the air-conditioned house. It may appear there are two ruby-throated hummingbirds, an adult male and a juvenile male, approaching each other from the two sides of a pole. In reality, I cheated! These are two different photos juxtaposed to make it seem that way.

The white throat and white tips on tail feathers identifies this as a female. Note: Juvenile males also have white tips on tail feathers, so sex identification of young hummers can be difficult.

Hummingbirds will often return to the same bird feeder year after year. Ruby-throated hummingbirds may live as long as a dozen years, though the average is probably less than half that. I have had this old plastic feeder for probably that many years. I have tried other feeders, but the hummers seem to prefer this gaudy plastic one. For more information about hummingbirds, see my previous post A Hummingbird In My Garden.

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Reader Comments (17)

Your photos are marvelous, Deb. I did wonder at the photo showing 2 hummingbirds beak to beak, not because you didn't do a great job of combining the images, but because the feisty little creatures rarely seem to tolerate others getting so close. I'm lucky that our Anna's hummingbirds are resident year-round but things get more lively still when the Rufous hummingbirds vacation here - their chases are epic! Unfortunately, I have neither the camera equipment nor your patience to get good photos of them.

July 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

I think that everyone should sit still and watch the hummingbirds from time to time!

July 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

Fabulous images Deb...I am glad that when my hummers leave in fall, that they will be well cared for in your garden.

July 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

Fantastic photos of really beautiful birds. You must have a lot of patience to have got these images. Unfortunately the only humming birds I have seen have been in aviaries, it must be so wonderful to see them flying free.

July 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Great captures. You also have great patience to keep feeders filled in hot weather when they get sour and moldy so quickly. My birds have to depend on flowers for nectar. They don't seem to mind.

July 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

You have patiently and skillfully captured what I see. But ours are sunbirds at the birdbath or investigating whether the flowers I planted for them are ready yet??

July 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Good for you to enjoy the hummingbirds first. With that said, your photos are excellent! I agree that the hummingbirds are the most difficult to photograph--especially in flight. But they are so entertaining! I don't like it when they fight over territory, though, even if that's how nature works. I want them all to be friends. ;-)

July 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

These are wonderful photographs, I wish I were half as successful with my images of butterflies. I love seeing humming birds, they seem so exotic as we don't have any in Europe. I'm glad you were able to sit and enjoy some relaxing time outside.

July 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

How cute and wonderful images, Deb. I especially like your "cheating" image. They look so cute like they are dueling. I too have been seeing the hummingbirds this year, but only on the flowers. They are avoiding the feeders unless I am just missing those times of feeding. The nectar always needs filling even though I never see one hummer at the them.

July 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Wonderful photographs Deb. We don't have hummingbirds in the Netherlands but we do have hummingbird butterflies. Not that I ever saw one, but I keep hoping that one day one will visit my butterfly bush.

July 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Really fantastic photographs! So far this year we have had only a few brief glimpses of hummingbirds.

July 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Respect to you! I have tried and failed to capture hummingbirds on camera. These photos are gorgeous - and I am very impressed with your cheat photo! I had no idea that there were so many different types of hummingbirds. Fascinating.

July 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

These photos are absolutely gorgeous! I have really enjoyed looking through them and your beautiful garden too.

July 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Those are amazing photos! (I think the hot steamy days of July are just made for propping up your feet, doing nothing much, and watching the natural world.)

July 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJean

amazing photos, I find it hard enough to photograph birds when they're barely flapping their wings, let alone 52 times per second! I wonder whether they're attracted to the colour red, matching their necks?

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

Wonderful creatures! Deb, you did a great job!!!

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

I have the same hummers in my garden. :o) Such feisty creatures but so beautiful. You and I tend to start the day the same way - in the garden.

August 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

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