April 04, 2007

The Swarm!

I'l admit, I don't know what the official term for a flock of hummingbirds is. However, after filling the feeders this morning I have decided that calling it a swarm is perfectly appropriate. Within seconds of carrying the feeder out into the yard I was attacked. They didn't even wait for me to hang the darn feeder.

While I was outside enjoying the feel of wings beating at over 70 times a second only inches away from my ears and tiny little feet perching on my fingers, I only noticed the Anna's Hummingbirds. But then, I was a bit preoccupied with holding the feeder still and taking pictures. It wasn't until I downloaded the pictures that I realized there were actually two species mobbing me. The other was a Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Here are some of the pictures I was able to capture from this morning's action. Be sure to click on the pictures to be able to see these beautiful little birds more closely.

I didn't get very good photos of the male Anna's. But I did get a couple that show off their brilliant throats and crowns shining in the sunshine.

Here's an action shot of an Anna's swooping down to the feeder. He was one of the bullies of the group, and as a result, the other hummers ended up allowing him to perch on my finger unmolested for almost two minutes. It was on the finger behind the feeder, though, so I couldn't get any pictures of it.

This is a female Black-chinned Hummingbird. You can tell her apart from the female Anna's by the greyish crown and the white spot behind the eye. If you look to the left you'll also see a tiny hummingbird tongue from a second female who just finished drinking.

Here's a nice shot of one of the male Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Too bad I clipped his wing off. If I had turned the camera just an inch more to the right this would have been a damn good shot.

So, if you ever plan to feed hummers in your own yard, it's really important to make sure that you always have fresh food out for them. Sugar-water can go bad fairly quickly, particularly if you live in a warm climate, so it's good to change them out every few days. And once the hummers in your area find your feeders, they'll empty them rather quickly. Don't bother getting the "hummingbird food" you can buy in the store. It's loaded with food coloring to make it look red, and this does absolutely nothing for the birds. Instead, just make them a mixture of sugar water (1/4 cup sugar for every cup of water). If your feeder has a little bit of red near the feeding holes, the hummers will find it. They don't need a whole container of red liquid to know there is food present.

When you do get hummers coming to your yard you will have a great time watching them. You'll also be amazed at how close you can get and how easy it is to get a hummer to perch on your finger. All it takes is some sugar-water and a little patience.


kippur said...

At's a lot of humming birds. Nice lawn by the way.

Janine said...

I think he's too busy playing with the birds to care about the "lawn"...or maybe its cuz he hated mowing the lawn when he was a kid, so now he figures if there's no grass, he won't have to mow!! Better do somthing about that B4 we come down Paul...don't want the girls shoes to get red mud on them ya know!!! :o)

P. Ollig said...

Yeah, well, there's grass in the front yard. So that will have to do. Not gonna guarantee that it'll be alive when you visit, but there's grass.

Besides, there's just something wrong with the idea of wasting water on a lawn when you live in a desert.