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September 17, 2011 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I have been trying to attract Hummingbirds to my garden for a few years now by planting flowers that they like. It’s finally working and I’m seeing them flitting around the yard. They were out there this morning buzzing around the yellow cone flowers and spider flowers. They zip around so quickly that they are difficult to photograph.

I have only a few Hummingbird photos but I wanted to feature them before they left for the winter. The beginning of Autumn is migration season and they are now starting their journey south to Central America, with many crossing the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight.

While walking on the nature trail near my home I spotted this little hummingbird stopping for a rest on a branch. The sun was in the wrong position so the background is a little too bright but overall I was thrilled to finally get a photo of one!

This is an immature female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. They are found in the Eastern US and Canada and are the most common Hummingbird in North America. The males have a bright red throat and emerald green wings and crown. The female has white underparts. They are named for the male which seems to be quite common in the bird world. If you are on the west coast you will see different hummingbirds, most commonly the bright orange Rufous Hummingbird.

To the right is another photo of the young female. She fluffed up and turned her head and now the long length of her bill is visible. (click photos for clearer image).

Interesting Facts:

  • They can beat their wings about 53 times a second.
  • They prefer red or orange flowers, have good color vision and can see into the ultraviolet spectrum
  • The female lays eggs about the size of peas.
  • Males don’t help raise their young. Pairs are together long enough for courtship and mating and then he goes off on his own.
  • Their migration north appears to be timed according to the appearance of certain flowers along their route.
  • They can fly forward, backward and can hover.

If you are interested in learning more about birds take a look at my review of The Joy of Birding: A Beginner’s Guide. There is still time to enter my giveaway to win your own copy. Enter through Sunday, September 18th.



I link up my bird photos on Saturday Snapshot hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.



Leave a Comment
  1. laurelrainsnow / Sep 17 2011 9:08 am

    I love hummingbirds. I can’t remember the last time I saw one, though. When I was a child, we lived in the country and my mother had many gardens. The hummingbirds visited frequently…though they must have been the West Coast variety, since I live in California.



  2. Jennifer Ryder / Sep 17 2011 9:56 am

    Hummingbirds are like rare jewels. I just saw one a week or so ago. Once or twice a year It buzzes through my yard checking out the flowers. It’s so small and fast that it takes me a second to recognize what I’m seeing!!


  3. smellincoffee / Sep 17 2011 9:59 am

    FANTASTIC close shots. You must have the approach of a ninja or a really good zoom lens. 😀


    • Leslie / Sep 18 2011 12:51 am

      I only have a medium length zoom lens but I can lean against a tree and be perfectly still while the birds forget I’m there.


  4. Debbie Rodgers / Sep 17 2011 10:00 am

    Isn’t it amazing hos just a few ounces of feathers & grit can make that migration journey? Hummingbirds are beyond my comprehension….thanks for sharing them with us.


  5. Margaret @ BooksPlease / Sep 17 2011 10:06 am

    I’ve only ever seen hummingbirds on TV! You’re so fortunate to see them in reality.


  6. gautami tripathy / Sep 17 2011 10:22 am

    WOW! I love hummingbirds!

    Here is my Saturday Snapshot post!


  7. Jill / Sep 17 2011 10:26 am

    When we movied to our house 6 years ago we used to sometimes see a hummingbird at the red flowers that used to be part of the yard. When we did some changes to the landscaping we lost the flowers and I haven’t seen one since.


    • Leslie / Sep 18 2011 12:54 am

      I think they’re pretty fussy about what flowers they like. I’ve heard that they prefer red. However, they are coming to my yellow coneflowers and pink spider flowers. Both of those plants are favorites of bees and butterflies too.


  8. Bev@My Reader's Block / Sep 17 2011 10:32 am

    Stopping by for my Saturday bird fix. Wonderful hummingbird shots! My mom would love these.

    Here’s my Snapshot:


  9. Suko / Sep 17 2011 11:08 am

    This is so pretty! I adore hummingbirds. 🙂


  10. Alyce / Sep 17 2011 11:15 am

    They look very cute, and I haven’t seen them young without their coloring before. My grandmother had a hummingbird feeder, and we lived at her house for a few years when I was a kid, so I have memories of sitting and watching them for long periods of time. They are mesmerizing.


  11. Sheila (Book Journey) / Sep 17 2011 11:58 am

    I have a friend who is a real bird person and she has attracted them…. I will have to ask her how.


  12. Lisa / Sep 17 2011 12:02 pm

    I was going to say that I didn’t see any ruby anywhere – that’s a terrific picture. I love hummingbirds but have no luck attracting them. Wrong flowers and shrubs, I suppose.

    My Saturday Snapshots


  13. Trish / Sep 17 2011 12:12 pm

    I can’t even imagine how tiny the babies must be! Great that you were able to catch one at rest.


  14. Nise' / Sep 17 2011 12:58 pm

    Great photos. I’ve tried to get a good picture all summer of them, but just could not do it. One was stuck inside the garage and it took me an hour to help him get out. The pictures were too dark.


  15. mostraum / Sep 17 2011 1:39 pm

    I will forever be jealous of your bird pictures. I’ve tried taking pictures of hummingbirds and it’s so hard. Lovely photos again.


  16. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Sep 17 2011 7:44 pm

    Leslie, what a great capture. I saw a few this summer, but never had the camera handy. Loved learning more about them through your post.

    I was 40 degrees last night here and low 60’s today, and I did not notice even one goldfinch at the feeder today….flying south maybe??


    • Leslie / Sep 18 2011 1:21 am

      Goldfinches are short distance migrants. They’ll move south out of only the coldest areas. You should have them all year. There’s an abundance of natural food for them this time of year. I saw flocks of them today eating seeds out of the wildflowers when I went for a walk along the nature trail. They’ll be back.


  17. Louise / Sep 17 2011 9:56 pm

    I’m quite astonished at your photos. I just saw hummingbirds for the first time on a trip to America in the last few weeks. I was amazed at how small they are! I just spent my morning trying to photograph birds much larger than your hummingbirds, with much less impressive results. Well done. Photographing birds is hard. Very hard.


    • Leslie / Sep 18 2011 1:24 am

      Thanks. Hummingbirds are very difficult because they move in all directions. These are the only successful pictures I have of them. I probably spend too much time stalking birds, but I enjoy it.


  18. bermudaonion(Kathy) / Sep 18 2011 5:49 am

    Wonderful photos! We love to watch hummingbirds – you have to love their spunk and daring!


  19. Mary / Sep 19 2011 6:57 am

    I see hummingbirds when I visit my parents in Arizona. They have some shrubs that attract the birds so if I sit in that area I can hear them before I see them. What an amazing bird!


  20. Katy / Sep 19 2011 10:59 am

    I love hummingbirds! But I can never seem to catch them in a photo–they’re too fast for me! 🙂



  1. Weekend Birding: Ruby-throated Hummingbird | Under My Apple Tree

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