My first real awareness of hummingbird behavior came decades ago, while exploring a small tract of abandoned farmland. A wet drainage in the middle of the property was populated with Jewelweed or Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis), a succulent herbaceous plant with tubular orange flowers. It was in full bloom and I was able to observe, for the first time, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) feeding on nectar and perching in a natural setting. It was then that I also learned that they vocalize with a high-pitched, twittering sound (probably made by males guarding the food source and chasing).
The only hummingbird species that breeds in eastern North America, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are an extremely popular summer resident. Enthusiasts hang sugar-water feeders, generally clear containers with red, flower-like feeding stations, and plant tubular, red, orange or yellow flowers to attract hummers. These efforts are usually very successful and provide hours of delightful bird watching in the heat of summer. In some cases, as many as two or three dozen hummingbirds, adults and young of the year, will visit a feeder in mid to late summer and consume large quantities of artificial nectar.
I’ve presented some of my favorite hummingbird photos in a gallery. Most of these images are perching males that were either at rest (drying, preening, etc.), leaving their perch or aggressively guarding a sugar water feeder.
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.