This morning, I awoke to the sound of rain. On this fourth consecutive day of rain, I have grown concerned about flooding, so I peered out various windows to see if the water had begun to pond. In the backyard twilight, I saw a ruby-throated hummingbird swoop in to land on my wife’s bright red feeder. He got two slurps then he rocketed almost straight up to somewhere in the canopy of a large elm tree.
I wondered if he might be quick enough to see and avoid falling rain drops. I live in Southeastern Virginia, and mostly our hummingbird visitors sport feathers emerald green at the back and white at the breast. The males have ruby-red throat feathers. Two or three males fight over the use of our feeder and perhaps six to ten females regularly fly in to feed, unmolested by the males. On occasion, we have seen a larger black hummingbird fly in. None of the ruby throats mess with him.
A migratory species, hummingbirds nest in various Central American countries during winter. They fly across the Gulf of Mexico to return to North American locations familiar to them. I have not read any plausible explanation as to why our bird visitors fly up to Virginia when they might have stayed in Alabama or Florida. I have read that the males come see us first, probably to stake claims on food foraging areas, like my wife’s bird feeder. The females, and their young, arrive later in the Spring (usually in the month of May). I read some studies of captured, released, and tracked hummingbirds that conclude fat content as critically important to their health and their chances of surviving such long journeys of flight each year. The birds live only 3-5 years.
We have noticed a peculiar behavior in our hummingbirds when my wife moves the feeder to a different post hook (about two feet away). She has a bird seed station hanging from the other post, to feed our seed crunching birds. Those birds spill seed to the ground, which attracts squirrels who will eventually damage the lawn below the feeder. So, my wife will occasionally switch the two feeders. For some reason, our hummingbirds, who can find the red feeder after a 1200 mile journey, will hover in front of the seeder station that got put where they expected it. It takes them awhile to find the new location of the sugar water that they crave. #TAG1writer