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
Preening while on feeder watch duty
Trying an alternative diet plan