Monday, September 13, 2010

The Fall Swarm

I love that hummingbirds hang around late spring through mid fall or so. I keep two or three feeders full for them. Some of those that visit in the spring continue to fly north. Others stay, nest in nearby trees and raise their young.
I've seen two varieties: the jewel-toned ruby-throated and less-flashy black-chinned. In late fall, they fly across the Gulf of Mexico to winter in Mexico and Central America, though I find it remarkable anything that small and that uses that much energy just beating their wings can fly even a couple of miles.

They are quite aggressive defending their food source. Lots of aerial battles take place around the feeders. Eventually, though, everyone gets a drink.
In the past few days they have begun to swarm the feeders, meaning they're fattening up for their migration. It's a challenge keeping the feeders full but these little guys need all the nectar they can get right now for their 400-500 mile flight. It's bittersweet seeing so many as it's a sign they'll soon be gone .

These pictures were all taken from my desk through a window. I, of course, hang two feeders within sight.


fairyhedgehog said...

What wonderful photos!

LSimon said...

This summer I took my husband & son to my great aunt's house in West Virginia. She keeps hummingbird feeders on the porch and the little guys were zipping all around us. It was amazing!

Phoenix said...

FHH: The subjects at least are stellar!

LSimon: What could be better than hummers in the summer? :o)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know what mixture goes into the feeders. Honey? Sugar and water? I have hummers here in the little garden we relax in after class but before we're ready to retire to our small apartments for the evening. I'll have to find out if Thai hummers migrate or stay here year round. In Xiamen, PRC., we had egrets, (provincial bird)here we have swallows, doves, chicadees, pelicans and herons floating by above us as we chat about the day's classroom adventures.
Here the hummers drink from the flowers in or tiny garden and delight us with their grace. They almost remind me of seahorses. Such energy. Brave little souls. Lovely photos.

Phoenix said...

Bibi: All they really need is sugar -- even the refined kind.

I mix 1 cup of sugar with 2 cups of hot water to ensure the sugar dissolves well, then add 2 cups of cold water, mix and serve. That's it.

Any container will do; the ones specifically made for hummingbirds just keep other birds and some insects out of it.

The hummers will also snack on various insects, but the sugar/nectar is what they need for fast, sustainable energy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. I'll let you know if I can entice some up to my itsy bitsy balcony. The doves here are a soft light gray brown with almost a blue hue around ther necks. Very tame, they peck away at the food left out for the "spirit" houses. Each small shrine represents a family who really own the peoperty you live on/at. In our garden the "family" has a father, with glasses who looks like Colonel Saunders. Every morning fresh food is put out, maybe guava, sticky rice, a sugared fruit drink and fresh water. The water must be taken away at night. On holidays fresh orchid wreaths are draped over the houses along with more expensive treats - maybe little cakes and some watermelon or oranges. People "wai" the little spirit houses as they go and from. This is the way permission is asked to live on the property happily and with good luck. We don't want to offend the spiritual owners of the land we live on.
On the street you will see lovely little offerings of rice, fruit and drinks carefully laid out, with a joss stick in it. These offerings are for those died in car accidents. Local belief is that the spirit remains where it left this world. So I negotiate many "ghosts" as I walk the few blocks to school. Interesting customs. For some reason the street dogs and cats never touch these offerings. Do they know something I don't?

Whirlochre said...

I love it that you have hummingbirds hanging around.

I get sparrow, starlings, and big rook-like horrors whose only role in life seems to be to shit all over my chimney.