For the Birds: Complain and they will come

Photo by Chris Bosak A female ruby-throated hummingbird visits a flower in New England, July 2020.

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in several New England newspapers …

Apparently, all I had to do to get my hummingbirds back this summer was complain to my neighbor.

I had had frequent visits from both male and female hummingbirds early in the spring. The daily visits continued for a few weeks and then stopped abruptly. Last year, and the year before that, the visits never stopped and I saw them daily until the fall.

This year, June was largely a hummingbird-free month in my backyard. 

During a walk around the neighborhood last week, I noticed a neighbor had bird feeders on her deck so I stopped to chat about what birds she had been seeing. She had a few of the usual suspects but didn’t mention hummingbirds. 

I inquired about the tiny birds and she said: “Yes. I see them every day.”

“That’s great,” I replied. “I haven’t seen mine in a while.”

I went on to bore her with the details of my previous years’ good fortune. She feigned interest, we chatted a little more and then said goodbye. 

The birding gods must have heard me griping and took pity on me because, the very next day, a female hummingbird showed up at my feeder. She has been back every day since, too. It is very territorial as I have seen her chase away other hummingbirds. Another female and a male have started showing up now and then, too, when the queen is away.

In previous years, a female has dominated my feeders throughout the summer so I wonder if she is the same bird I have been seeing for years. At any rate, it is nice to see the hummingbirds back in the yard. It is also nice to know there are several of them, even if I get only brief glimpses of the other ones before they are chased away.

I have a few feeders and several flowers to lure the hummingbirds. She prefers the feeders, but on occasion will sip from the flowers. This year, most of my flowers are red salvia, an annual with tubular shaped blooms. In the past, I’ve seen hummingbirds visit my coneflower and even sunflowers.

Complaining usually doesn’t solve problems and often makes them worse, but in this case, things worked out pretty well. I plan to take a trip to northern New England in a few weeks in the hopes of finding some of New England’s disappearing moose. Maybe I should proactively start complaining now in the hopes of getting the same results for that trip?

Hummingbird Week, photo 7

Photo by Chris Bosak
A ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a thorny branch.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds. This post will wrap up Birds of New England’s Hummingbird Week.

Fun Fact: Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend their winters in Central America or southern Mexico.

Hummingbird Week, photo 6

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips nectar from Canna flower in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.
Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips nectar from Canna flower in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds.

Fun Fact: On average, hummingbirds beat their wings about 50 times per second.

Hummingbird Week, photo 5 (Happy Fourth of July)

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds. This is one of my favorites because of its patriotic feel.

Fun Fact: There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds, all occurring in the Western Hemisphere. About 12 species may be found in the U.S. with the ruby-throated hummingbird the only one regularly occurring east of the Mississippi River.

Hummingbird Week, photo 4

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated HummingAbird perches on a branch in Brookfield, Conn., summer 2016.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a branch in Brookfield, Conn., summer 2016.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds.

Q: What does a cat call a hummingbird?

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Hummingbird Week, photo 3

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips juice from a berry in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds.

Fun fact: Their wings aren’t the only things that move fast as a hummingbird’s tongue can sip from a feeder at 13 times per second.

Hummingbird Week, photo 2

Photo by Chris Bosak
A ruby-throated hummingbird visits fuschia blooms in Danbury, Conn., May 2019.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds.

Fun fact: Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards.

Hummingbird Week, photo 1

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds. Let’s kick it off with this classic …

Q: Why do hummingbirds hum?

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Nice to see this guy back

Photo by Chris Bosak A male ruby-throated humminacgbird visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak A male ruby-throated hummingbird visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Not sure if it’s the same male ruby-throated hummingbird I had last fall, but at any rate, it was good to see him return to the feeder a few days ago. He’s been their daily, several times a day. The female is still hanging around, too. Hopefully there’s a love connection there and they’ll build a nest somewhere on my property. I’ll keep my eyes open.

 

Hummingbird stories, tips and suggestions from BoNE readers

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

The vast majority of the hummingbirds have gone south by now. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do another post on these spectacular tiny birds. I did a series of posts and bird columns on hummingbirds a few months ago and received a tremendous amount of feedback. So here, in no particular order or font, is a ton of information from Birds of New England readers. Thanks so much for your feedback and feel free to write any time. Siimply comment on this post or send me an email to bozclark@earthlink.net

From Marsha,

We live in condos on a large open pond surrounded by trees so it’s a perfect environment for the little birds, lots of open space to chase each other around and lots of areas to perch. I can’t seem to get them to come to my feeder (I have one and my neighbor has 3) but they do occasionally visit my hanging petunias and fuschias which I specifically hung knowing hummers are attracted to the tubular flowers. They are extremely entertaining to watch and I was very disappointed to learn that they were actually being aggressive toward each other and not playing. Oh well, I guess it can’t be Disney all the time…

From Joan,

I have a feeder hanging about 2 feet from the glass jalousies that enclose my breezeway and see these little guys every day.  I don’t have any flowers near them (my yard is very shaded) but there are some coleus plants below the feeder so perhaps they see those bright colors.  I also have a hairy woodpecker who drinks from the hummingbird feeder and I find that I must refill it about every 4 days since he is so thirsty!  He just hooks his feet over the edge where the base meets the clear upper part and drinks away.  There are 3 plastic flowers around the base of the feeder that the birds drink from and they are a couple inches apart but if one hummingbird is drinking, the other one won’t go to one of the other flowers and in fact, if there are two of them around at the same time, they dive bomb each other.  One of the hummingbirds that comes has the bright red spot on his throat and the other one looks like the one in your picture without the red throat.  I can be just inside the windows that are tilted out and they come bopping around right up to the window.  I love seeing them and know they won’t be around too much longer but then it will be time to start buying sunflower seed for all my other winged friends Continue reading