Breeding Territories Reached

May 29, 2020 by Team Journey North

As migration winds down, hummingbirds defend territory, build nests and raise young.

“Thrilled to see our (Ruby-throated) hummers back on the feeder.” Submitted by Donna (Webster, NY; 05/14/2020)

First Sightings Slow For Ruby-Throated and Rufous Hummingbirds

As hummingbirds reach their breeding territories, “first sightings” slow. Northern most “first sightings” for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have come in from Peter in Athabasca County, Alberta and Ryan in Kelsey, Manitoba. Along the Atlantic coast, Nick in Cape Briton, Nova Scotia observed his first female Ruby-throated Hummingbird as well as a number of sightings from Quebec province. 

From Ste-Julie, QCDaniel observed a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at his feeder. (05/24/2020)

There were only a few “first sightings” of Rufous Hummingbirds. From Strathcona County, AB. Jana commented that she had “been waiting for a couple weeks for the [Rufous] hummingbirds to return.” She saw her first solo male at 7:30 pm, during cold rain with “no hummingbirds since.”(05/21/2020) 

The Busy Lives of Hummingbirds 

Life after spring migration does not slow down for hummingbirds. Finding food and raising young is a never ending job for these small but mighty birds. This submission from Journey North citizen scientist, James, provides a snapshot the busy life of one Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

From Gulliver, MI: James created this daily log: 

25 May: Ten days after first hummingbird returned, this day had constant traffic of many individuals male and female visiting feeder nearly every minute or more on average all sunlight hours. ‘Short Leg’ (male named for his short, deformed right leg most often seen with right foot barely extending outside of belly feathers) has been notably unique and frequent.

“26 May: Short Leg’s busy day defending feeder…From sunup until 1146, not another male was allowed to use the feeder as Short Leg chased away all newcomers and sat sentry…At 1147, Short Leg allowed a beautiful large female to come to the feeder and briefly pose before taking a few sips, then he pursued her…At 1950, a final epic jet-fighter-like battle [ensued when] Short Leg attacked an intruder at the feeder, they danced spinning around the feeder from opposite sides holding themselves in a vertical tall hover posture…

“27 May: Cleaned feeder put out…with chasing action immediately following. Short Leg prevailing over much less action… 

28 May: Afternoon image of one of the lucky ladies pausing between long drinks…Much less action than the previous few days, as Short Leg has two or three females to escort after they use the feeder, and very few other males to chase away.”

Finding nectar and raising young offers opportunities for Journey North observers to capture the action on camera. 

From Toronto, ON: Brian reported, ”[Ruby-throated hummingbird] happily drinking nectar from flowers. Stopped to pose for photo.” (05/26/2020)

From Humboldt, TNSince last reporting,we have our 9 feeders up and the last count was about 20+ hummers. We are filling them up everyday,when we have to fill them up twice a day is when the fun really begins. They are everywhere!” (05/28/2020)