Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Southward Bound

With autumn underway our summer dwelling birds are leaving for their migration to warmer climates. Our little green herons are already gone from the pond, I haven't seen the Indigo Buntings nor the Blue Grosbeaks in a few days, and I no longer hear the melodious song of the Wood Thrush in the evenings.

Our smallest summer residents, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, are beginning to leave also. The males have flown south already as I haven't seen one this week. However, some females are still here. Both sexes are metallic green above. The males, as seen here, have a red throat (called a gorget) and a solid black double pointed tail while the female has a white throat and a fan-shaped black tail with white at the end.

From Paintings By GG

These tiny aerial acrobats fly so fast that they are pretty hard to capture in a photo. They have been clocked as fast as 60 MPH, their wings can rotate up to 78 beats per second, and they can hover, fly directly up or down, sideways, and backwards. Baker loaned me a tripod so with his help and encouragement I was able to take several good shots of some having a territorial fight at the hummingbird feeder on my porch, a few of which I will share with you.

Hummingbirds live only in the western hemisphere and some are the smallest birds in the world. Of 388 species only 16 live in the contiguous US. The Ruby- throated Hummingbird is the only one who lives east of the Mississippi River and they travel to central America for winter. In the late summer they must fatten up to make their long journey, as these tiny birds fly from the southern coasts all the way across the Gulf of Mexico to their winter home. This is an astonishing 500-mile, non-stop journey across the water for such a little creature. Excluding beak and tail they are no longer than two knuckles on your finger!

Hummingbirds get their energy by eating the nectar from flowers (as well as sugar-water from feeders)and their needed protein from tiny insects and spiders. They are very territorial and defend their food sources diligently. When in confrontations around a feeder they can fly so fast they are seen as just blurred streaks! Though they chase each other viciously they never seem to make contact or hurt one another.

Sometimes there were three in this aerial battle but I was never able to catch more than two at a time in a photo. With camera on tripod I then stood still and waited for the action. The two females here twirled around each other for some time before the intruder finally gave up and flew away, leaving the first to devour her "nectar" in peace.

By next week they will all have flown south. We will all sorely miss their presence and antics until their return next spring.


  1. GRACEANNE..I was going to ask Baker where you have been. I have missed your posts. I LOVE your paintings and the information about hummingbirds is so important and I learned a thing or 2. Please visit Rambling Woods....Michelle

  2. What a wonderful post....I love to read about the hummers in detail....they are such magical little birds.....In England, ofcourse, we do not get them.....

    tku for sharing......

  3. Lovely shots! Those little buggars can be really tough to catch!

  4. Such beautiful little birds! We had quite a few when we set up a feeder at our home in Oregon, but then decided the cat and the birds didn't mix too well :)

  5. I love your paintings! We had hummingbirds when we lived in Oklahoma, but I rarely see any here. I used to worry that they'd kill each other over the feeders. In fact, I called the local Audubon group about it. They told me to put up at least three feeders, at different sides of the house; there's usually one aggressive bird that wants it all to himself, and he can only defend one spot at time LOL

  6. Your paintings are wonderful. Well done on the photos of the hummingbirds. That must have made you very excited to capture them! I remember my grandma had hummingbirds at her house (many, many, many) years ago. I haven't seen any since! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Your paintings are lovely and what an informative post.

  8. Baker, you have an exquisite attention to detail. Your vibrant and amazing photos remind me of the true beauty of life.

    I thought that you might enjoy some work by an artist that I know. The work is done entirely by pen on paper. I've seen the work in galleries. Most are at least 30" high.

    But the recent work involved buds and such, so I thought that you might like the intricacy involved. It's a site that's under my "Brilliant Blogs", but here's the link,

    Hope that you enjoy it, and all my best to you, Dano.

  9. Dano - Thanks for dropping by as always and for the kind words about the blog. As you probably noticed this particular post was by Graceanne (GG) and the photo's and artwork included are her's. Graceanne is the real artist around here with years of study and work in different mediums. As for me, I just click a button every now and then and let the camera do the work, lol.

    I have visited MonkeyFur before through the link in your blog. (I think I was intrigued by the name.) She does amazing work. It is hard for for me to believe that some people are so talented and can produce such intricate drawings.


  10. Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments about my post and my paintings. I appreciate all your kind words.

    Michelle, Thanks for highlighting us on your blog and glad you like mine. Am going to try to post more often

    Cheryl, I wish they were worldwide so that you could enjoy these little flying jewels also.

    Coleen, Thank you very much.

    Moziesme, Sorry you don't have them in Mozambique too.

  11. Vicki, Thank you, glad you liked my paintings. Yes, they are very aggressive. I have 2 feeders, one on front and one on back porch where they can't be seen from each other. In years past I had feeders at sides of house also.

    Kelly,Thank you also. I sure was happy to capture these in photos.
    Where you live there should be many different species of H-birds.
    Planting tubular flowers like Salvias, Petunias, Bee-balm, etc. will most likely bring them.

    Rose, Thanks. Happy I could offer information.

    Dano, Thanks for the kind words and the info. I will try to go to 'Monkeyfur' soon also.

  12. And thank you for the warning -- I'll set out my feeders tomorrow to make sure they're welcome!

  13. Gorgeous paintings! GG you are so talented!

  14. Graceanne...It's nice to meet you...your paintings are beautiful...I appreciate them as I started painting this past year...without instruction..not the best, but I find it so relaxing and a way to express myself...I CANNOT get a good hummer photo, that's a goal of mine! Enjoyed your info, photos, and especially your art!


Thanks for stopping by to visit our little pond. We would love to see you again real soon.