“Cleared to Land”

Photograph-of-the-Week: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The hummingbird is common here in Middle Tennessee, and a constant source of entertainment on the front porch. They are both very possessive and protective of their feeding spot, and very resourceful. Apparently there is a pecking order, probably a senior bird that will swoop in and drive away other hummers from the feeder, sometime audible slamming into the intruder. But while the alpha is chasing one intruder away, a third one swoops in and calmly sips the nectar.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Approaches theFeeder

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Approaches theFeeder

This morning three hummingbirds were swirling around the feeder. Finally one perched on a nearby branch. It was slightly smaller than the other two, and clearly a juvenile. It sat there, looked at me, back at the other hummingbirds, and then just looked around, surveying the scene. When the other two left, it stopped quickly at the feeder, then hummed off after the other two. They make short, squeaky chirps, usually when two or more are in the same area.

Hummingbirds are actually pretty easy to photograph. I set the camera on a tripod and aimed it at the approach area of the feeder and just waited. Shoot in a well-lighted setting and use a high shutter speed. Patience is the next ingredient, but hummingbirds soon become accustomed to the camera set-up and return again and again.

They migrate to North America from Central America in spring, then return south in the fall. Some birds reportedly fly 900 miles nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico. They do not catch rides on migrating geese. One problem is that geese stop along the southern coast of North America, while hummingbirds fly on to Central America and southern Mexico.

For those that have to know:

Ruby-Throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird native to the eastern United States.

Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris

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4 Responses to “Cleared to Land”

  1. Nice shot of the hummingbird! We have several varieties here in the West. Right now a pair of Anna’s hummingbirds are feeding on our patio. They are fascinating to watch.

    The migration of the ruby-throated hummingbird is quite spectacular – there are towns along the Gulf of Mexico that hang thousands of feeders out so that the birds can fill up on each end of their journey during migration seasons.

    Thanks for a great article.

    • merlinjr01 says:

      Glad you liked it. Yes, here in the east, we have only the Ruby Throated. We spent time in Old Town San Diego and I was fascinated by all of the hummingbirds .

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