photography and digital scrapbooking

Hummingbird Quirks


Observing the Ruby-throated hummingbirds revealed some quirks of the juvenile and the female. They are the most active, so I ‘know’ them best.

All photos: Canon 60D on a tripod.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird

The juvenile male  (identified by a few red and gold throat feathers) is the least wary of humans. He visits the feeder more often than the adults. And he is more likely to perch for a few seconds after he drinks. When he perches, he looks left and right almost constantly, sometimes angling his head in comical positions.

(This photo is similar to the one included with my Juvenile Hummingbird post.)

ISO 400, 370mm, f/5.6, 1/40.

ruby-throated hummingbird

The juvenile male does not hover long before drinking. And he usually drinks without harassment from the adult birds. I read that at some point, the female will begin treating juveniles like other birds who invade her territory and begin chasing them from the feeder. I guess it prepares them for territorial issues they will face as adults!

ISO 800, 200mm, f/4.0, 1/40.

juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird

The youngster sometimes peers directly into the camera. Or so it seems!

ISO 500, 200mm, f/4.0, 1/160.

female ruby-throated hummingbird

The adult female (white tail feathers, no red spots on throat) tends to hover in front of the feeder for several seconds before, during, and after feeding. While hovering, she looks up and turns her entire body left and right to survey the area. I think she has claimed this feeder as her own, since males rarely show up here. When they do, she chases them all day.

ISO 800, 220mm, f5.6, 1/60

ruby-throated hummingbird near feeder

One of the female’s quirks is to investigate the area under the opening of the feeder. She moves all around this area,  poking her bill and extending her tongue as well. I have no idea why she does this, but I think it is interesting. Update: Thanks to a comment by one of the readers of this post, I think it is likely she was looking for an insect snack!

ISO 640, 200mm, f/4.0, 1/160.


Author: Karen Chandler

Metal clay jewelry, nature photography, and digital scrapbooking are Karen's passions. She is mostly self-taught, enjoying the learning process as much as producing her works of art. Karen's jewelry features fine silver, copper, and bronze. She sculpts and refines metal clay, then kiln fires her pieces and polishes them to perfection. The process allows for exciting interpretations of symbols, shapes, textures, and combinations of metals. A long time user of Photoshop, Karen loves to create digital layouts with her photos. Her layouts and albums are a diary of sorts; documenting milestones, recording happy times, and celebrating her love of nature.

19 thoughts on “Hummingbird Quirks

  1. This is so entertaining! I can’t imagine how much fun it must be for you. 🙂

    • Thanks, Janine! I’m enjoying every minute! The tropical storm is moving closer to us. Over the next couple days, the forecast is for 6-10 inches of rain. I hope my little birdies will be ok! The feeder is sheltered, so it will be interesting to see if they visit during the storm.

      • I hope you are safe during the storm. I know water and what it can do. I miss my parents home place. There were so many hummingbirds to watch. I hope to be able to bring in some new plants this fall and early spring to attract them here (lexington, ky area).

        I love your photographs. I study them to see how I might be able to improve my photos when I am able to get equipment again.

  2. Hey Karen, I like to write with words but you, you write with light! These hummer photos put me in your window. I gave my husband a gift today you might enjoy. (hint hint, hubby) It’s a handheld hummer feeder for those frisky guys and gals that like to take a closer look and get up close and personal. THX for these photos and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • You are welcome, Toni! And thank you for your kind words!

      I have not seen the handheld feeders. What a great way to get a close look at the birds, hear the chirping, and maybe have an assistant (husband) take some photos!

  3. marvelous photos, Karen! thanks so much for sharing them with us!

  4. Such extraordinary creatures.
    Pretty good shots.

  5. 65% of their diet are insects. She was probably looking for ants under there.

    • Thanks for the info, littletree50! That is what she was doing! I just read online that in addition to nectar, they eat pollen and insects for protein. The grooves on the tongue help them collect the insects.

  6. Lovely and vivid photos–look forward to more as well as your commentas! I signed up.

  7. Great photos of wonderful birds 🙂

  8. They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 12–90 times per second (depending on the species) (Wikipedia) and That’s what they said in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” movie.

    I am in love with them! 😉

    Many thanks

  9. These are so beautiful photographs, I loved them all. It is a great fun to take her photographs. Thank you Karen Chandler, with my love, nia