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 audibly slamming into the intruder. But while the alpha is chasing one intruder away, a third one swoops in and calmly sips the nectar.
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