Backyard Birds: Up Close and Personal

Hummingbirds are one of the most fascinating and beautiful bird species that come to our yard each summer. The black-chinned, the broad-tailed, and the feisty rufous are the three species we see most often. Competition for nectar can be fierce, and it’s exciting to watch their aerial acrobatics as they buzz back and forth to determine the “owner” of our flowers!

It’s all about nectar ….. a commodity somewhat scarce in the desert, especially during a drought.

So there I was checking out the handful of delicate aloe flowers on the 6 foot tall flower stalks, when a male black-chinned hummer seemed to appear out of thin air! He immediately began sipping from each of the open flowers, totally oblivious to my presence! Being awe struck, and completely incapable of turning on my camera, I just gawked …… what a magical encounter!

Then all at once, this hungry guy came to a screeching stop, in mid-air, and turned to face me, not more than 8” from my face. Did he finally realize I was standing there? For a good 15 seconds (or for 1,200 wingbeats) he just stared me down, as if to say, ”Hey! This is my nectar patch!” (Wow ….. ok, yes ….. whatever you want, I thought.) To emphasize the point, he ever so slightly twisted his head causing those velvety black throat feathers to catch the sunlight in just the right way to flash a brilliant bright iris blue half-moon pattern directly at me! My first and only words during this encounter were, ”You’re gorgeous!”

In an instant he was gone!

Yes, it’s all about nectar ……. here’s a fun fact shared by allaboutbirds.com …….

“The Black-chinned Hummingbird’s tongue has two grooves; nectar moves through these via capillary action, and then the bird retracts the tongue and squeezes the nectar into the mouth. It extends the tongue through the nearly closed bill at a rate of about 13–17 licks per second, and consumes an average of 0.61 milliliters (about one-fiftieth of a fluid ounce) in a single meal.” I also read that when nectar is scarce, these hummers will supplement their diet with small insects. Right now we have plenty of nectar and gnats to keep these high energy birds going and going!

Flowers of the Red Yucca (Red Hesperaloe) opening along the 6 foot tall flower stalk.

What birds are you observing in your backyard or neighborhood?

8 Comments

  1. elainebhills says:

    Awesome. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re more than welcome! Thanks for commenting Elaine. Wished you’d been by my side when that little guy stopped and stared!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a delightful encounter! The stare-down of a hummingbird is one to make you perk up and wonder if they will keep moving towards you, but I think they are bluffing! Wow, 1200 wingbeats in 15 seconds — they are the most amazing birds. We have the anna’s and rufous hummingbird here and the flashes of sparkling green and fuchsia is magical! The purple base of your hummer is gorgeous! Our hummers dive and challenge each other when our feeder is out and soon they will be squabbling over the crocosmia when it blooms. We have some good shots of them in past years but it is always an awesome treat when they visit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comments make me smile and laugh, Karen! I’ve never known a hummer to bluff! But I wasn’t willing to push him. I’ll have to look up Anna’s range … they are beautiful! I’m guessing the rufies always win the feeder battles. Is that true? Sure is here. I’ll try to get some photos.

      Like

  3. Carol Wright says:

    Wow, this so cool! I love watching them. Update here, mom sitting on 4th set of eggs. This is my third summer with the blue bird box and by fall we will have seen more than 50 baby blue birds be hatched and then fledge from our back yard in those three years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the comments, Carol! And especially thanks for the bluebird update at Casa Wright! Mom has been busy this year. How amazing that you helped being into the world so many chicks! Congratulations.

      Like

  4. memnona says:

    Superb ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear Aga!

      Liked by 1 person

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