Close Encounter-- Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Close Encounter-- Ruby Throated Hummingbird

First, let's be clear: this is not my photo. My camera (as in, the phone in my pocket) was inaccessible during yesterday's shenanigans because the pocket was on my right leg, and my right hand was otherwise occupied. As was my left, actually. So I am using this excellent image from Wikipedia to let you see the same type of closeup view that I had yesterday.

By Pslawinski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Pslawinski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It all began when I left the door to the shed open. I wasn't intending to start anything when I did that--just to let some fresh air into the space. I then went inside to drink some water and catch a little bit of the Georgia football game, which was a mistake. Don't ask. 

Towards half time, I went back outside and headed into the shed to fill a newly-cleaned bird feeder. I was met by a loud buzzing--and, looking up, I found a hummingbird desperately circling the rafters, trying to find a way out the ridge vent of the roof. Never mind that the door was wide open--apparently the little gal (or immature guy) was so hot that she was not able to visibly read the escape route. 

She briefly rested on one of the electrical lines running over to the ceiling fan from the track lights over my workspace but made no move, whatsoever, towards the door. 

I opened the second half of the door, grabbed a ladder, set that up inside, dashed to get the hummingbird feeder...which I know this little one was familiar with. They fight over it all the time, right?

I brought the feeder into the shed, climbed the ladder, hung the feeder on the electrical line. Almost instantly she landed on the feeder, panting. Didn't even attempt to drink. I reached up, every so slowly, and wrapped her gently in my hand. No struggle. 

Unhooked the feeder. Climbed down the ladder. Got her outside in cooler air and shade. Stuck her little schnoz into a feeder hole. 

And she drank. Paused. Drank again. Paused. Drank some more. 

I actually had to tip the feeder to one side, because the level was down. Walked her into the house for really cool air... the routine continued. Pause. Drink.

Back outside, and still no struggling. Hung the feeder in its usual spot but continued to keep it tipped where enough fluid would reach the vent. Opened my right hand, where she remained--Drink. Pause. Drink, drink, drink!

And then she gave a little chirrup and flew off into the fir trees. (Follow the link to listen to her typical voice at All About Birds.)

This little one is one of three (and she was still around and doing fine today, thank goodness!) that has hung around the yard this year. Usually we only have one or two. It's doubtful, based on our elevation, that the hummers will winter with us, but their winter range has definitely shifted north, based on data collected by citizen scientists who participate in FeedWatch. You can read more about this story HERE. And, in reality, any hummer with us during breeding season would migrate south for the winter. If any stay with us, it will be those who migrate from further north than our North Carolina residence. 

We attribute our success with the hummers this year not to red flowers--though we've had a few of those, too--but to blue. Our black & blue salvia has been an outstanding performer this year, and much contested by our trio. That, and the fact that we have small insects loaded with protein  galore... :)

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