During my second trip upstate in the last three weeks (and after my second Big Day in as many weekends) I was up for some relaxation Sunday, and got it with my family. Of course, for me, relaxation includes watching birds, so the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds coming to my parents’ feeders featured prominently in my relaxation plans.

female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

If you look closely at the shot of the female above, taken about two meters from the bird, you can just make out a bit of spider silk on her beak. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds use spider silk when building their nests because it is a strong material that allows the nest to expand as the nestlings grow. Seeing as hummingbirds nest in my parents’ yard every year, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that she is already working on her nest for the year.

In the half an hour I spent photographing the hummingbirds a total of three came to the feeders, two females and one male.

male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The male was extremely aggressive, driving the females away every time he noticed them feeding at what I can only assume he felt were his feeders, while the females seemed to be willing to share.

two female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the feeder

The feeder above is kind of beat up, both from age and from the abuse heaped upon it by marauding bears and squirrels. My dad has recently received some very nice new feeders but he is hesitant to put them out for fear that they will be destroyed (or he is a bit tired out from digging holes for trees, something I will be posting about soon). Anyway, the feeder above is nice for photography as it allows me to get shots like the one above with a still hummingbird, something I can’t get with the feeder in the shot below.

male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeder

Nonetheless, I am pretty happy about that shot. But not as happy as I am about the one below, the only time I managed to get a picture of a hummingbird flying towards me even close to nicely focused.

head-on hummingbird

Anyway, I highly recommend getting a hummingbird feeder for your backyard, that is, if you have a backyard, and, for that matter, if you live in the Americas.  Though if, say, Europeans started putting some feeders up maybe they would be more likely to get some vagrants (get to it Jochen!).

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.