Two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds Still Here – Or Passing Through

Early this morning at least two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were still coming to the feeder on our back deck. I watched them for a few minutes, coming and going between the feeder and nearby oaks, and wondered if they might leave tonight with the cold front now moving through. We’ve had a lot of fun watching hummingbirds all summer, beginning with the first bright-throated male that appeared in early April and came alone for several days before a female joined him later in the month. We noticed that the male almost always hovered at the feeder, staying on guard; when the female came, she perched to sip. Through the summer, males, females and then juveniles came to the feeder frequently, all day every day; and now the last few migrants are moving through.

Because the feeder hangs from the deck not far from our kitchen windows, we’ve seen them often, and I hear their twittering through my open office windows. They’ve been a regular part of our daily lives. When we had lunch on the deck or sat outside in long, warm, lingering summer twilights, the hummingbirds would come and go from the feeder, sometimes zipping over to hover very close in front of one of us, to check us out, then zip away; or visit some of the flowering potted plants, while titmice, chickadees and nuthatches also took advantage of water in the small moat in the middle of the hummingbird feeder. We’re going to miss them when they’re all gone for the year.

By late afternoon the day had become cloudy, gray and cool, with high, thick clouds and moody, pearl-gray autumn light. Birds were mostly quiet – the usual Chickadees, Titmice, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Northern Flicker’s kleer, Eastern Towhees, Blue Jays, American Crows – and a Northern Mockingbird sang from the top of a small tree along a wooden fence. A Brown-headed Nuthatch or two chattered their squeaky-dee calls in some pines, and – the most surprising event of the day – I heard the clear and repeated ank-ank calls of a Red-breasted Nuthatch. They came from a wooded area in back of a large yard, and weren’t close enough even to try to see, but the calls were repeated several times. I have noticed several reports of Red-breasted Nuthatches in the area recently, so maybe it’s going to be a good year for them here.

As I neared the end of a walk through the neighborhood, coming up the last hill toward our cul de sac, a Cooper’s Hawk suddenly flew low from trees in a yard across the road ahead of me, and swiftly disappeared into a bank of wax myrtles and Leyland cypress trees.  It was a brief, but dramatic view of a medium-size, sturdy gray hawk with broad wings, long, slender, banded tail, and what appeared to be a white patch at the base of the tail, but was – I think – white feathers from below the tail ruffled up and over.

A nice way to end the day.

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