Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hummingbird Delight

I have glorious childhood memories of summers spent at my grandparents' cottage in the lush, pine-filled northwoods of Eagle River, Wisconsin. My grandfather had a few hummingbird feeders placed outside the house, easily seen from windows. Often, while sitting at the dining room table, a hush would overtake our meal as we all sat in awe,  viewing a tiny iridescent creature, delicately sipping the sugary maraschino cherry colored nectar (back then it was common to put red dye in the sugar water mixture).

We purchased our beautiful country property in the summer of 2007. The following spring, I drove our tractor over to the orchard. The freshly budding trees needed tending to. As I switched the ignition off, I was distracted by a whirring buzz and rapid movement near the side of the machine. My eyes opened wide in amazement and delight! A diminutive female Ruby-throated Hummingbird was examining the bright yellow John Deere decal on the tractor's lift arm. She hovered a bit, moved closer, backed away, took note of the other yellow tractor markings and zipped off. Ecstatic with my precious sighting, I put the throttle in full gear and sped back to the shop, bucket clanking and dust trailing behind, to tell Bruce the exciting news. A few days later we placed three, newly purchased feeders out on our acreage. To our pleasure we had several hummingbird visitors during the summer of 2008.

The following spring, we hung 7 feeders out in the country. Anticipating the hummingbird show, we packed picnic lunches and ate our meals down by the feeders. All summer long we were entertained and amused by the spectacular aerial displays and antics of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. We observed three or four tiny birds battling for ownership of each feeder. There were too many hummingbirds to count! Spring of 2009 arrived along with 5 new feeders. Our grocery bills increased, too, with all the extra sugar purchases. Hummingbird eggs hatched and our numbers grew! Currently, we have 14 feeders hung on our property. I have asked Bruce to stop me, no matter how much I protest, from hanging anymore feeders.  So much of my time is spent cleaning and refilling them! I spot hummingbirds wherever I am on our land. With each sighting, a bright smile appears on my face. Many have become rather tame and will feed while I am only a foot or two away from them.

Recently I was sitting on our ATV trying to photograph some of the feisty hummingbirds perched in the pines (see below). I heard a familiar hum close to my ear and felt several soft puffs of air against my neck. An especially tiny juvenile male Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovered beside me and then landed a foot away, on the lip of a 5 gallon bucket in the ATV basket. This little fellow sat next to me for two minutes as I stared in amazement at his beauty. He looked at me, I looked at him, he observed other hummingbirds as they invaded territories and whizzed on past, chittering profusely. My mouth agape, I sat and noted his faintly emerging red gorget (throat) feathers, minuscule size, itty bitty feet and boldness to trust me.  My new little buddy, sitting along side me, on a lovely summer day. I truly hope the wee fella returns next year to sit beside me once again.
(All tree photographs were taken this year, all feeder photographs were taken last summer)

A tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird shows of its stunning iridescent feathers

A handsome male Ruby-throated Hummingbird pauses momentarily on a feeder

A quick flick of the tongue

Two alert hummingbirds prepare to take on a rival

A ruffled hummingbird postures while defending its feeder

The reason why I have to refill our feeders so very often

A chittering Ruby-thoated Hummingbird warns others to stay away from her feeder

Fattening up for the long migration south

Battling Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

No vacancy

Preening while on feeder watch duty

Trying an alternative diet plan


Kenny Salazar said...

Great post Julie! I love the story and every image is spectacular.

Anonymous said...

Julie...a truly enjoyable post and gorgeous photos! I have always loved hummingbirds...they are precious and entertaining! Your property sounds wonderful filled with new discoveries each day! Thanks for a delightful retreat into the world of hummingbirds...Cathy

eileeninmd said...

Wow, fantastic shots of the hummingbirds. That last shot is cool.

Hilke Breder said...

Great capture, particularly of the hummers defending their position at the feeder.

forestal said...

very nice post - sounds like you have a wonderful spot. superb photos as usual :)


PoetessWug said...

I thought my backyard was something with only ONE hummingbird in it!!...These photos are usual! :-)

Elijah Goodwin said...

Excellent post Julie. Love the story and the images!

BirdGalAlcatraz said...

Julie, what a delightful story and what spectacular photos! Such a pleasure, thank you.

Joanna Durczok said...

WONDERFUL photos... so clear, sharp and full of colours. It's very difficult for me to take sharp photos of birds. Your shots are simply perfect! Greetings:)

cindyzlogic said...

An awesome series of photos, Julie!! They are so sweet!!

JRandSue said...

Brilliant photography with outstanding captures.
A delight to see.

Weekend Cowgirl said...

What fantastic photos of the hummingbirds! What kind of camera do you use? Awesome pictures!

Anonymous said...

your photos are a real wonder for the eyes!
I love watching the details of all these birds and the beautiful natural colors, your texts are very interesting too! I had a pleasant time to read you, I'll will you follow with pleasure ...
Bye mahon :)

Julie G. said...

All of your kind, wonderful comments mean so very much to me. I'm forever appreciative of the support and encouragement. Thank you!

As far as what kind of camera I used for the above photographs. The tree shots were taken using a Canon 7D and the feeder shots, by a Canon Rebel XT.

MaineBirder said...

Beautiful Hummingbird series!

Ours have taken off for warmer climes. We keep the nectar feeders out for any stragglers.

Anonymous said...

great details in this wonderful series of hummers!

Joke van de Klift said...

In Een Woord " Schitterend "
Wat Mooi al sterven Verschillende foto's en Zo Scherp .
Mijn complimenten .

CE Webster said...

Wow! What great pictures!

maggieisfiercefamineuncontrolledbeatch said...

отличные снимки, птахи очень милые

Manuel Luis said...

Se vires um beija flor entrar na tua janela, fui eu que mandei dar um beijo na flor mais bela. Adoro esta ave, estive 22 anos em Angola e vi muitos. Tenho boas recordações.
Esta pagina esta muito bem elaborada, por isso fico aqui e convido-a seguir a minha.
Repara-se na entrada que a qualidade é da CANON 7D. Eu fico com a CANON 1000D. Não tenho condições para chegar mais longe.
Quando vier a Portugal, convido para fotografar aqui no santuário da Ria Formosa. Parabéns e receba um abraço.