Out of all the birds, my favorite is the Hummingbird. This is the only bird that can fly forward, backward, side to side, can fly flat out than stop in an instant and hover motionless in mid air. Truly a marvel. Sadly the Ruby-throat is the only Hummingbird we have here in the east. Once in a while we will see a stray Rufous or Anna's Hummingbird.
Getting all that delicious nectar is no problem for the Ruby-throat.
The Hummingbirds crown and back are a bright golden green. This makes them glitter like emeralds in the sun. Additionally the male has an iridescent red throat. This is called a gorget. When not in the sun it looks dark. Both male and female have gray-white underparts with dark wings. The females tail is rounded and dark with white tips.
A female Ruby-throat shows off her tail feathers.
Some of these migrating gems cross the Gulf of Mexico, a 500 mile journey that takes them over 20 hours depending on the weather. Pretty impressive for a 3 inch bird with a 4 inch wingspan that weighs maybe 4 grams.
During mating when a female enters a males territory the male will start to make a U shaped loop. He will go as high as 50 feet over the female and if she perches he will start to go quickly side to side while facing her.
Ever wonder why the Hummingbirds tongue is so long. The Hummingbird does not use his beak as a straw to suck up the nectar. His tongue is split at the end and slightly wider with tiny bristles on the tip. He extends and contracts this up to 13 times a second to lap up the nectar. This image illustrates how long his tongue is.
I watched as this young female flew around the Honeysuckle so fast, than just stopped, hovered right in front of the flower she wanted.
They will do anything to get to that nectar. Sometimes they get a little carried away and dive in head first.
Male Ruby-throats are very aggressive and defend their territory including flowers and feeders. Here two males engage in chest bumping as they hover and fight for position.
These two males put on a spectacular dogfight but ultimately one tired and was subdued. Here the victor stands over his exhausted opponent but don't worry as he let him fly off to try his luck elsewhere.
Another male is on the other side of the yard protecting his territory.
Two young Ruby-throats stare each other down as both are practicing to rule the domain. Next year they will most likely do this for real.