Enjoy Hummingbirds While You Can
Story and photo by Art Weber
Enjoy those ruby-throated hummingbirds while you can, they’ll soon be on their way south for the winter. Typically, adult males – only the adult males have the ruby throats that give the species its name -- depart before the females and the juvenile males hatched this year. Look for them at feeders and nectaring on flowers.
They love tubed flowers and are attracted to reds and, less often, yellows. The flower-lined stalks of late-blooming red cardinal-flowers fit that bill – pun intended – perfectly. Both hummingbirds and cardinal-flower benefit. Hummingbirds get the nectar they need for fuel and, as they do, they unwittingly pollinate the plants. It’s a win-win relationship.
Don’t be fooled into thinking these tiny flying jewels are delicate. They’re bird-smart and capable of amazing feats, as well as routinely engaging in aerial scuffles with other hummingbirds to defend a food source. Their incredibly fast wingbeats give them amazing quickness and maneuverability, including the ability to fly backwards as well as hover.
Even more amazing is that some of our hummingbirds will fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico to wintering grounds.
It’s well worth taking some time to read up on this amazing species.
Even after our birds leave for the winter you may want to keep your hummingbird feeders full and fresh on the off-chance that you’ll attract a rufous hummingbird. The rufous is a western species that occasionally strays eastward on its migration. You just might attract a surprise visitor to your feeder.