I am sitting with my coffee and trying to wake up after a long Saturday visiting with friends in the City. I turn my head and there is the immature ruby-throated hummingbird that has been visiting the feeder for the last couple of days. It is grayish green on the back with white on the front. Since this could be either a male or a female (and even be more than one bird) I have been calling this visitor Junior.
|Juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird |
(photo courtesy Birds of North America Online)
And yet hummingbirds have been few in the backyard. Junior has only been coming the past few days. During the usual peak (for my yard) period of July I saw one. That might've been because of the heat. I can't sit long on the porch, even with the fan, when it feels like close to 100 degrees. Also, while the feeder is in the shade, the sugar water can still go bad if not changed after a week, and there were times I did not do that. (When a hummingbird hovered and then flew off, I knew it was time to clean the feeder.)
In July, the males, having mated and created the next generation, are gone or ready to leave. By August, the females have raised the young and shown them how to fend for themselves. Then the female adults leave. So by this time of the month the juveniles are what come to feed before instinct tells them it's time to head south for the winter. (When I say I have "peak" visitors in July it is females who need to fuel up as they seek protein food - insects - for their young.)
|Canna flowers (Margo D. Beller)|
I do have more flowers that attract hummingbirds in the front yard. I just bought a purple coneflower, the light pink flowers of the Rose of Sharon are finally opening, the sedum are not yet ready to bloom but are close, there are the purple flowers of the butterfly bush and the bee balm and there are the red flowers of the cannas. Cannas are usually grown for their foliage but I like the flowers. One year I opened the front door and there, through the storm door, I could see a hummer at one of the flowers. It saw me, flew to the storm door, looked at me and then flew off. But I'm not always looking and most hummers are skittish and fly off at the slightest movement.
Soon summer will finally be over. I've already taken in my wooden wren house so it doesn't rot in the rain, and the house wren brood at the birdhouse next door are gone. (What I have seen is a lot of squirrel activity in the trees, gathering nuts. When one squirrel knocked the birdhouse, I knew the wrens must be gone because the parents would never have allowed a squirrel to get that close.) School resumes in a little over two weeks, and the daylight is noticeably shorter.
The leaves will fall, the flowers will be done and the hummers will be gone until next spring, when I hope for better weather conditions and more a more favorable environment to bring them to my feeder.