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Hummingbird Friends

Hummingbirds are by far my favorite bird of all time. They are the smallest of all the bird species weighing about as much or less than a nickel and are so feisty! Hummingbirds nest in the pine trees in our area, so all summer long we hear them zipping by to find food, or to "protect" their feeders as they are very territorial.

The middle of April is my favorite time of the year, because that's when we start hearing that familiar buzz in the air that means our Hummingbird Friends are back! The first year we were in our home, we had one nesting in the tree right in front of the house. We saw her every day and Ayla decided to name her Tink! She was a broad-tailed hummingbird and was the tiniest little bird I've ever seen. We hung my very first feeder next to the tree so we could watch her eat, perch and buzz around. At one point we thought for sure she had eggs in her nest, but we never could spot it, because their nests are only about the size of a large walnut and the eggs they lay are as small as jelly beans! How cute!!!

Look at those tiny little feet!
Look at those tiny little feet!
Hummingbird - Tuttle Kitchen
Male Rufous Perching

Watching my hummingbird friends dash around brought me so much joy that it inspired me to learn as much as I could about them and to start watching other birds. It has been so fun learning about them and that is why I wanted to share some of my knowledge with others who are interested. I now know why my grandmother loved these little guys so much!

I'm almost certain I've spotted four varieties of hummingbird at our feeders in the last two years. The Ruby Throated, Rufous (my faves), Black Chinned and the Broad Tailed. I've only been able to get a few good pictures to share with you, because they move so quickly and they are only here for a short time during the year. Like me, they like the warm weather and travel south to spend the winter in Central America once it starts to cool down here.

Hummingbird Friend
Male Black Chinned Hummingbird
Fireball EG Tree
Male Rufous Perching

After realizing how predatory hummingbirds are, I decided to hang up a few more feeders around the house. We now have one on every corner (I may have a problem) but it has attracted so many new birds. With that many feeders it only made sense to learn to make my own homemade nectar to keep these little guys fat and happy! They eat about half their body weight each day in insects and nectar. It is so fun to watch them all chase each other from feeder to feeder. Last year, there was a regular visitor to the back feeder that was SO round and lazy! He would always perch on the back tree and let me get pretty close, so I got some great pictures of him!

The Rufous Hummingbird is the most tenacious but the most beautiful. They are little flying fireballs with bright orange throats and wings, but the females have light green backs with peach colored abdomens and spotted throats! When the sun hits their feathers they can almost appear bright red! The first time I saw one I thought I was seeing things... then I did some research. Turns out, only about a month during the year, the Rufous Hummingbirds stop in our area before heading south. Rufous are a little aggressive and tend to bully the regulars out of the way while they eat, so it's very entertaining to watch.

Male Black Chinned Hummingbird
Male Black Chinned Hummingbird
Female Rufous
Female Rufous

Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds are the most common in our area. They show up at the end of April and stay until the end of August. Although they are not as ferocious as the Rufous, they are still very feisty and chase each other and other birds around. One of my favorite things to watch though, is when the males do their mating "dance". The males will fly straight up, high into the air then turn around buzzing really loudly, flying very quickly straight back down in front of the female. They come back down so fast (about 30 miles per hour) you always think they are about to hit the ground but they fly back up just in time!

Hummingbirds have a life span of three to five years and they tend to visit the same feeders year to year, so it's possible that you see the same birds a few years in a row. Life can be hard for a bird as small as the hummingbird, so it's a good thing they are so quick. Predators can consist of larger predatory birds, squirrels, outdoor cats and even frogs if they fly low enough! Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly backwards and their wings flap 20-70 times per second.

Female Rufous Jelly
Female Rufous In Flight
Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird Perching
Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird Perching

Male hummingbirds tend to have iridescent feathers that appear to almost shimmer in the light. Depending on the lighting, they can even appear to change color when in the sun. Females usually have more dull feathers and colors. They also have these tiny little feet they can't walk on, but are good for perching on small branches and feeders.

My little friend, Phatt
My little friend, Phatt
Hummingbird Pair - Tuttle Kitchen
Two Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds

Thanks for reading along and learning about hummingbirds with me. I got a lot of my information from the Complete Birds of North America book by National Geographic and from Google. Hopefully this year I can get loads more pictures and share another post soon! Thanks for bird watching with me!

Ashley Tuttle

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Posted in Out of the Kitchen

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