I’ve been spying on young males. But they’re leaving me.

a ruby-throated hummingbird at a favorite feeder

a ruby-throated hummingbird at a favorite feeder

Female hummingbirds outnumber male hummingbirds in nature.

Young Ruby-throated hummingbird males look like females during their first summer.  They don’t have ruby-red throats and they have white markings on the tips of their tails like the females.

Some of these young males will begin to  show a few small red feathers around their throats in late summer and early autumn of their “hatch year”.

And so, as I get a very close look at the hummers on the feeder outside my kitchen window, I’ve been spying on young males.  I know they are hatch year male Ruby-throated hummers because they’re sporting new, clean, tiny red dots on their throats.

hummer and tiny mice

a hummingbird sips nectar from the flower of a plant called “tiny mice”

The tiny red dots glint in the light as the young hummers move.

Male hummers!

It’s something to get excited about because there just are not that many males.  And these can be identified as having been hatched just this breeding season.

Sadly, they are leaving me.

Off to warm Central American wintering grounds where the hatch year males will grow out full gorgets of ruby-red feathers before I see them again in spring.


a hummingbird plays peek-a-boo with my camera




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4 Responses to I’ve been spying on young males. But they’re leaving me.

  1. Jim in IA says:

    I’ve been keeping an eye on our feeder this week. A year ago, the last observed hummingbird here was Sept. 27. I saw one yesterday the 25th. I haven’t been carefully looking for the new young males. But, there has been a beautiful mature male around. The red flashes in the sunlight are spectacular.

  2. Quite a cheering tale! I hope some young [slightly older] males return to your garden next spring…

    • At least some of them very likely will be back. They have remarkable memories and are often seen in spring hovering where they last left a feeder the previous autumn …. waiting for the human friend to put it out for the new season!

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