Tag Archives: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

My wife, savior of Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird in my yard. A beautiful male hummingbird like this one spent a harrowing (for him, and me!) few hours in my garage this weekend, before my wife saved him.

May is probably my favorite month of the year.  It’s when the warm weather usually takes hold after a long, cold South Dakota winter, and from a birding perspective, no month of more spectacular, with summer birds arriving and many migrants moving through that you don’t see at any other time of the year.  One of the highlights of May for me usually happens around May 8th or so, when the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird shows up in my yard.  We’re at the fringes of their normal breeding range, but I live across the street from a state park that has some forested land next to a river, and it does seem like they breed there.  Breeding has never been confirmed in my part of the state, by I do have hummingbirds around my yard all summer long, including young ones that usually show up in my yard sometime in July or so. 

We’ve had an incredibly mild winter, and March was spectacularly warm for South Dakota.  Many trees and other plants bloomed a good month before they normally do.  I’m not sure if that’s the reason why, but this spring has been very slow for hummingbirds in my yard.  I have only seen one male occasionally visit my yard.  Sunday, I was out doing yard work most of the day, came in the garage, and noticed a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird flying around the top of the garage, constantly banging up against the roof as he tried to find his way out.  We have a very tall garage, with a good 6-feet or more above the actual garage doors.  The poor little guy was obviously freaking out, and couldn’t figure out that to get out of the garage, he needed to first go down about 6 feet to where I had left all the doors and windows open. 

I continued my yard work, hoping he’d find his own way out.  But after an hour, he was still in the garage.  He was obviously getting tired, as he’d fly up and bang up against the roof for a bit, then come down a foot or two and rest on a wire to the garage door opener.  I started to try to find a way to lure him out.  I brought in my hummingbird feeders and placed them low in the garage.  Later, as I worried about his strength, I put one high near his wire perch, in the hopes that he’d at least feed.  He was having none of it, with no interest in coming to the feeders.  After 2 hours or so, when his energy was obviously getting less, I slowly brought up my 2 long-handled fishing nets in the hopes of trapping him in between them, so I could bring him down and out of the garage.  No luck.  He wouldn’t budge from his wire perch and fly into the nets, and I certainly wasn’t going to force the issue.

I was very frustrated, thinking that the one hummingbird I had coming to my yard was about to die.  I went back out and started working in the yard again, when I saw my wife coming very slowly out the back door of the garage with a very long feather duster in her hands.  She said “Is he on there???”.  Given that the bird didn’t want to fly much any more because it was tired, my wife slowly raised the feather duster up by the bird on the wire until the hummingbird clung on.  Then she ever-so-slowly and carefully brought the duster down and out the garage door.

The hummingbird was indeed clinging to the feather duster!  But he must have been very tired, because even after getting him out into the sunlight, he just clung there for a minute or two.  Finally, he zipped up and away.  Given how long he was in there and how tired he seemed to be getting, I just hope he was able to feed quickly and recover.

One thing I will do is change out the ends of the manual garage pulls that dangle down from my garage door openers.  They are bright red balls hanging down in my garage.  I had heard that hummingbirds are sometimes trapped in garages, because they area attracted to the bright red color, fly into the garage to investigate, and can’t find their way out.  I’m not sure if that’s what happened to this little guy, but just to be safe, I’ll be removing the red balls.

No!! Summer ending, bye-bye Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at one of my Hostas. Click for a larger view.

 No!!  It can’t be!!  I swear to goodness that it was just a few weeks ago that I anxiously awaited for summer to arrive, an occasion I always mark by the first hummingbirds to show up in my yard.  That is always right around May 7 - 10, and this year they arrived right on schedule.   I’m lucky to have Ruby-throated Hummingbirds around all summer, even though there never has been confirmed breeding in my part of the state.  I’m sure they do breed here though, as I even have had the males do their courtship flights in my backyard most years, including this year. 

The time the hummingbirds leave in the fall isn’t quite as “clockwork” as when they arrive in the spring, but it is in September at some point when they start disappearing.  Already, it’s been over a week since I’ve seen a male, as they’re typically the first to leave.  I still have a number of females and first-year birds in my yard, even counting 6 zipping around and chasing each other at one point this weekend.  However, I know they could now disappear at any time, so today, I spent some time trying to photograph them before they head south.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Another hummingbird photo from the yard.

We built our house five years ago, and I did all the landscaping myself.  I purposely planted many different types of plants that would attract hummingbirds, and it’s certainly been successful.  However, most of my photos in the yard have been at either this massive honeysuckle I have, or have been of birds perched in trees.  I’ve noticed them really using the flowers on my hostas lately, so I decided to try to focus on flight shots around my hostas today.  They’re certainly not shy, as they’re more concerned about defending their own little flower patches in the yard than they are about the weird guy with the camera, so it didn’t take long for me to get a number of shots today. 

However, in bird photography, it’s one thing to get a “number of shots”, vs. getting some GOOD shots!  I did get a few that I was pretty happy with, especially since they are so different than the other hummingbird photos I’ve gotten in my yard.

I’m hoping they’re still around my yard this weekend, but they could very well be gone by then.  Oh well…only 8 more months until they show up again!   Gotta love South Dakota winters!!