What’s that chatter?

August in this part of North Carolina is known for being exceedingly hot and excessively humid. But until this week, I didn’t know this sultry month was such a hotbed of avian activity.

I put hummingbird feeders out in March after social media posts declared they were on the way. Shortly after, a male showed up and claimed his territory. We’ve seen a few, here and there, all summer, and I’ve tried to keep the feeders clean and stocked with sugar water.

young male
There’s at least one young male in the bunch.

But this week — holy cow. The in-flight fights that have commenced! Around the flowering pear tree, in front of the porch, ON the porch — in a few instances, a few feet from my face. Migration is coming, and these hungry birds know it.

I now hear them chattering around the front yard before I see them, but see them I do. I wish I were a good enough photographer to capture some of that posturing and scolding, but usually I do well to snap a passable photo of just one of these fast fliers.

zooming in
These guys have been like little stealth bombers this week. Zip in, zip out.

I’ve seen at least one adult male, but have not been able to get a good photo. He prefers the feeder that’s closest to the porch roof.

feeder wars
Mine! Mine! Mine!
quick landing
I put several inches of sugar water in this feeder this morning., and it looks like it could use a few more.

These tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds won’t be here for much longer. They start migrating south in September. Until then, I plan to enjoy them, chatter and all.

hummer hiding
Zoom, zoom! This hummer takes a peek at me through the butterfly bush.

 

 

The magical hum of summer

Sometimes, in the heat of a summer day, if you’re sitting still (and sometimes if you’re not), you may glimpse a tiny, winged thing not much bigger than a large moth, zip right by, emitting squeaks and beeps. In the northeast, it’s likely a ruby-throated hummingbird in search of a sugar water feeder or a suitable flower.

Before this year, I hadn’t been much on keeping up with feeding hummingbirds; I know you have to change the water often and make sure it doesn’t run out (hummingbirds are voracious sippers), and I just didn’t make the time.

But as I spent more time with Mom, feeding the regular feeder birds like cardinals, house finches, titmice and a few others, I figured we would both enjoy watching hummers through her big picture window. I found an inexpensive feeder, we boiled some water and let it cool, added the requisite sugar, and very shortly, welcomed our first visitor.

little male hummer
The males I find hardest to photograph; the light has to hit them just right to make their gorget shine.

Hummingbirds, perhaps because of their speed (or their insatiable appetite), are not as shy as other birds. After a few days, you can risk getting closer for pictures.

hummer comin
Sometimes you have to keep snapping to get a good photo: these things are fast!

I am always amazed at how birds (and animals as well) can so easily blend into their backgrounds.

hummer camo
One of my favorite hummingbird shots.

I recently relocated Mom to live with my husband and I in North Carolina. As we sat on the deck one evening, a hummingbird flew by. That was our signal; Mom set out the feeder. After about an hour, there was one. Now there are four, and they all think they own the feeding station.

hummer hover
I caught this little beauty mid-hover!

I forgot to look for a second feeder today when we were out shopping. I will have to remedy that soon; the males seem to have already left for the winter.

hummer tail
Hummingbirds look amazing from every angle.
hummer stretch
I joked when we saw the first hummer in North Carolina that they had followed us from Mom’s house, two states away.

Whether sitting still, or zooming by, hummingbirds can be a wonderful introduction to backyard birding.

hummer hello
Soon they’ll fly south, but I look forward to their return in the spring.