Hummingbirds in Late Summer

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Our hummingbirds will be gone in a month so I’m savoring every moment with these little marvels. Numbers have peaked, boosted by the young of the year, and all are feeding voraciously in preparation for the long journey to the Gulf Coast and Central America.

They’re devouring sugar water in feeders, in some cases swarming like bees and constantly fighting for position.

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Gardening for hummingbirds is a more natural and satisfying method of attracting and feeding hummers. Red and orange tubular flowers like this Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ can be dietary staples.

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Perches near feeders are my favorite setting for observing and photographing hummers. Portraits that capture the nuances of perching behavior shed an entirely different light on a species best know for its aerial magic!

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When out and about in the summer months, I often think about hummingbirds foraging in natural areas, apart from the direct influence of man and artificial feeding practices. Are there tubular flowers blooming in the wild now? If not, what are the hummers feeding on? Three native species come to mind: Bee-balm (Monarda), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) and Jewelweed (Touch-me-not; Impatiens).

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Jewelweed or Touch-me-not (Impatiens) in early August

Photos by NB Hunter. All Rights Reserved.

 

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12 thoughts on “Hummingbirds in Late Summer

    • Thank you Hien. Love observing these little guys and rejoice over the occasional good image. The trials and tribulations of hummingbird photography over the years – I’m glad my images can’t talk and reveal the whole story!!

  1. Lovely photos Nick. The close ups of the birds perching are a treat. I observed 2 males competing for the feeder today, vicious. I have 2 other feeders also. A couple of days ago one came up to my face and chitted at me to refill the feeder. I did of course. My crocosmia “lucifer” has never bloomed yet. argh….but there are plenty of other flowers still in bloom that the hummers have been frequenting. I love the photo of the perching female with the apple in the background! Thanks for this collection.

    • Thanks Kathy. Always enjoy your stories and how they often dovetail with my experiences. Re: Lucifer – do you dig the bulbs before winter? It’s listed as Zone 5 which could lead to winter kill here.

      • Hi….No, I don’t dig them up. The foliage comes in strong but they don’t send up flower stalks. Hmmm, I’ve read on line that others have had similar problems. I think I’ll give them another season and then consider moving them…or digging them to winter. I don’t usually fuss with plants. I kept what goes easily and naturally in my environment. I don’t dig up gladioli either, but they have returned for several seasons. maybe I’ll get gumption and do the “proper” method of caring for “tender” bulbs. ;-))

      • Update: I just talked to the woman who has the Lucifer where I photographed the Hummer. Just 4 miles down the road. She’s had a vigorous patch for years; south-facing slope; sun most of the day. She cuts them back but doesn’t dig them. They bloom consistently. Guess I better experiment with a few plants.

      • Thanks , although mine get a lot of sun, I think that the plants that grow around them begin to filter the light too much as they mature in the season. I’ll look for a more intensely sunny spot 🙂

  2. We are lucky enough to have Anna’s here year round, but the springtime influx of Rufous gets pretty wild. The Rufous seem to be far more aggressive than the Anna’s, but then they go wherever they fly off to in about a month and I can slow down on keeping the feeders full. I remember when I had to switch from pints to quarts during the Rufous migration at the old place…. keeping four of them filled DAILY! But it was such a treat to watch their feisty antics. Well worth the effort and the sugar! 😀

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