Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Rubies

Well, here we are, into September already. Really don't have much to report but I wanted to supersede that broken window photo with something less dismal. By the way, the broken window is into it's third week of stay at the repair shop. Gave them a shout last week and the employee said it would likely be another week but he'd check and ring back. He hasn't! Seems the same story all over now. Long wait times for any home repair jobs. The new outside doors I ordered months ago won't be delivered and installed until next Spring. Seems bizarre.

Anyway thought I'd better snap off a few shots of my feisty little jewels before they migrate south. I'm talking about my Ruby-Throated hummingbirds. Of the three hundred species of hummingbirds, they are the only ones we see in Eastern Canada. These little beauties are super aggressive and defensive of their flowers and sugar water feeders. Competition is their default setting. No matter how much food is available, they bomb and dogfight each other almost constantly. Males compete with both genders while females compete only with females. Consequently, I have three feeders up -- all out of sight of each other.

The males have molted already. Because of that and because I hang my feeders in the shade, my photos don't show their brilliant ruby throats. Perhaps next spring I'll get a good shot of the guys' dazzling ruby gorgets. 

A few Ruby factoids: 

Females have white chest and facial feathering. She appears more elongated than the male and up to twenty percent larger. She has white tips on each side of outer tail feathers.

Adult females and male juveniles can be hard to distinguish as both have rounded tail feathers with white tips. The male is smaller and darker. His chest is gray rather than white and has a ruby throat patch that varies in colour with the angle of light. He has pointed tail feathers arranged in a forked pattern. He lacks the white tips on his tail feathers.

Life span from five to nine years with females living longer. 

Juveniles resemble females until their first winter when males develop a gorget. Male juveniles often have dark striping on their chin and may even have a dark throat feather or two.

A group of hummingbirds is often referred to as a charm.

They fly only during the day.

Rubies squeak, twitter and make greeting noises but don't sing.

They take in several times their weight in calories each day.

They get 2/3 of their diet from nectar and 1/3 from tiny insects. They can fly at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. More when travelling with the wind.

They cross the gulf coast to Mexico and Central America as far south as Costa Rica to winter.

Feet not made for walking but for perching and grooming.

 

Update: Just got a phone call saying my window is ready for pick up. Yay-y-y-y!!!

12 comments:

  1. Florence, your hummingbird photos are spectacular! Such interesting facts in your post, most I didn’t know. I didn’t realize hummingbirds lived that long. And your window is ready!! It has become the norm to have such long wait times. I took a few things in to be framed a couple months ago and was told they would be ready on the 29th……of July! Well, that didn’t happen but no big deal.
    Enjoy the rest of your week!❤️
    Robin

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    1. The photos would have been better if the light had been behind me, Robin. The kitchen window is a better location, but is covered with heavy plastic due to the breakage. Yes, isn't it weird about the long wait time for services?! Our health care situation is much more serious. My nephew needs knee surgery but is on a waiting list which will take him into next summer. Ye gads!!!!!

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  2. YOUR PHOTOS ARE STUNNING. I loved reading all the factoids (they really live that long and travel that fast?!) but your pictures are award worthy!! Well, I'm glad your window is (finally) ready and wow bizarre is right about your new doors. Florence, I need to go back and look at your amazing photographs again. You outdid yourself, truly. :^)

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    1. I have a bumper crop of humming birds this year, Doug. At least a dozen buzzing about. It's awesome to see these teeny tiny dinosaur descendants zooming about with such incredible speed and agility. Apparently they have a very high brain to body ratio. But I keep wanting to scold them, "Stop that squabbling, kids!"

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  3. Down here, car repairs seem to be the winner in waiting times, over 6 weeks for a scratch repair. Those photos are stunning, and the data about their lives, I had no idea about any of that.And best news of the window ready at last.

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    1. Interesting Jean, so even NZ has worker shortages. More unfortunate is the shortage of medical workers here so lucky are those who are not on a waiting list for a hip replacement, etc. Sure am going to enjoy getting my repaired window back and in place.

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  4. Gee all you had to do was gripe on your blog and the window FINALLY got fixed. Can't believe how slow that was.
    Thank you so much for the delightful hummer pictures. I really missed them this year as we were told not to put feeders out due to the bird flu. I had many a little hummer give me the dickens when they pulled up to no feeders. They are such fun to watch and are amazing creatures.

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    1. Yes, Patti, after me grumbling about the window, Abra Kadabra, it's fixed. A first for me to have that pay off. Interesting about the bird flu ban in your area. Eastern Ontario had an outbreak of bird flu a few years back particularly affecting crows.

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  5. Such a beautiful post about hummingbirds. I've struggled with identifying them and need to check what you wrote against my photos because I'm sure I've captured both genders and juveniles. And yes, I can't believe how much energy they put into combatting each other.
    Great timing on the window because I have a sense that our winter will be early this year.

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    1. Either the males have already left, Jocelyn, or they are in their non-breeding plumage. Gone is the vibrant colouring they wear in the spring and early summer. I never saw so many here as this year. Oh yes, nights are cooler and I certainly need that window back in place. Also, my temporary patch lets in a lot of road traffic noise. Sure will appreciate it's return to normal. Not going to appreciate the drama of thunder so much after that event. (sigh)

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  6. Mine are loving my hanging baskets and I am loving them! I shall miss them.

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    1. I've made a note to myself to buy hanging baskets of petunias next Spring. I'll miss the little dynamos when they migrate as well.

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Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm always glad to hear from you and appreciate the time you take to comment.