Saturday, April 26, 2008

Zip. Buzz. Hum.

At the entrance to the Reifel Island bird sanctuary, there is a house and lawn to the left, possibly a caretaker's cottage. Shrubbery and a rail fence hides it from the public areas, but just at the corner of the storefront, a 2-metre length of bare rail gives a glimpse of the lawn and the water beyond.

When we arrived, a photographer was set up with his tripod there, and we went over to see what he was aiming at. Hanging just inside the fence is a hummingbird feeder; a pair of birds were taking turns at it.

I couldn't decide which photos were the best, so I'm posting half a dozen.

Somebody had attached a few branches to the bottom of the feeder, to be used as perches.

Blurry. Those wings move at up to about 80 beats per second. The camera just can't keep up.

This one is red (with green splotches) all over.

Perched. Green shoulders. The collar, or gorget, looks black at this angle.

White belly on this one.

Look at those wings go!

I assumed this was a mated pair, and tried to see if I could identify their sexes. The more I looked, the more confused I got.

Here are a couple of descriptions; you may have better luck than I did.

From Hummingbird Pictures Guide:
The male is rufous (brownish red) on all sides with a white breast and bright orange-red gorget(throat). The female rufous hummingbird is green above, rufous on the sides, white beneath, and has orange-red spots on the throat patch ... with rufous coloring at the base of its outer tail feathers, black in the middle, and white at the tip.

Adult male: Non-iridescent rufous crown, tail, and sides; back may be rufous, green , or some of each; bright orange-red gorget, white breast....
Adult female: Green back and crown, white breast, streaked throat, rufous sides and base of tail feathers, white tips on outer tail feathers.

If this is a mated pair, they probably have a walnut-sized nest somewhere in the trees over the house,
"built with moss, lined with plant down, covered on the outside with lichen and bark, and held together with spider webbing." From Bird Web.

Hard to imagine. When I was a kid, a hummingbird got inside the wood shed, and was caught in a spider web. Mom freed it, but without restraining it herself, first. The panicked bird escaped, flying straight through the open door into the house. I remember Mom and Dad chasing it around from window to window, trying to throw a kitchen towel over it to hold it down. It took a long time.

When they finally caught it, Mom held it in her hand a minute to let it calm down, then took it to the back porch and released it.

I wonder, now, if the poor bird was just trying to harvest spider web for a nest.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susannah,

    Thanks for the comment on the cajeta post :)

    I loved these hummingbird photos. As you know, my nickname is "hummingbird" (hence my site's name) and these photos are gorgeous.



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