Monday, May 23, 2011

The Hummingbirds are Back!

The hummers are back!  They started to trickle in a few at a time in the last couple of weeks.  They are late this year as we have seen them in April in previous years.

Since it has been so cool, windy and rainy, they have been going through at least one feeder of sugar water a day.  I make my own instead of buying it.  I use 1 cup of sugar to each 4 cups of water.  Boil mixture and let cool.  Store leftovers in fridge.

This is a Calliope male hummingbird.  You can tell by the red feathers that stick out around his neck.  I have been researching on line to find out what kind of hummingbirds we have.  Here is one of the links to the Calliope.

Notice how the neck feathers stand out from the body.

We have 4 main species of hummers is British Columbia:  the Calliope, the Anna, the Black Chinned and the Rufous.  Others may show up but these are the four main species that migrate here.

Here we see a little "wing action" as the little guy gets his footing and gains his balance.

The females are not as highly coloured and so I have trouble telling them apart.  I haven't seen enough pictures of the different females to be able to distinguish between the species.

Notice the little toes grasping the feeder.  In real life the birds are so tiny that those little toes look like little black threads.  They are so delicate and tiny.

Hummingbirds do not use their beak as a straw but stick out their tongue and lick up the nectar.  It is said that they lick 10 to 15 times per second while feeding.

A hummers wings flap between 50 and 200 flaps per second.  That is why many pics show their wings in a blur.

Here we see one fellow coming in for a landing.

Sometimes we are lucky and the hummers are more interested in food than being territorial.  Those days we can see a number feeding at the same time.  Once last year we had two birds on the same perch sharing the same hole in the feeder.  It was quite cute watching them bob down for a drink and come up while the other bobs down.

Here is another sweet little female.

Hummingbird species can interbreed and create hybrid species so identifying them can be very difficult.

Here is a gorgeous Rufous male.  We have had one dominant Rufous male appear every spring since we have been here (three years) that we called "The Little King".  He was territorial and often not let others eat at "his" feeder.  When he wasn't eating, he would perch in the mountain ash tree and guard his feeder.  If another hummer arrived he was there chasing them away.  One day, it seemed like two hummers outsmarted him.  One sat in a cherry tree north of the feeder and the other sat on the fence south of the feeder.  One would fly to the feeder and Little King would chase them away. In the meantime, the other hummer would fly in and get to eat until King noticed him.  Then the chase would be on and the first bird would fly in from the other direction and have a snack.  This went on a long time with them buzzing back a forth.  No pictures were taken as they were just blurs buzzing and zipping back and forth.

His neck feathers are very iridescent depending on how the sun shines on him.  The Rufous travels the furthest of the hummingbirds in their migration.  They travel over 3000 miles from Alaska and Canada to Mexico for the winter.  Amazing isn't it?

Here is a link that has a number of interesting hummer facts.  There are many other sites as well if you are interested in these amazing little birds.


  1. Amazing hummer pics! We only get Ruby throated hummingbirds here, thats cool you get so many different ones, they are beautiful :) I just love when they return every year.

  2. HI!!! I'm still working my way through your blog. LOVING it. I am so envious of the hummers you had at your feeder. I just put one up a month or two ago. I get some, but can't wait to see what i get next year. Wish me luck.