Ruby Throat Hummingbird Feasting on Jewelweed
A very cool night was expected, and so my husband left to go backpacking to the Quehanna Wild Area without me. I spent some time in our backyard, just sitting and watching the hummingbirds. I want to enjoy them as much as I can because I know that their time of leaving is coming soon, and we will miss them so.
Ruby throat hummingbirds - the variety we primarily see in Pennsylvania - will soon migrate to Central America or Mexico, which is a very long journey. Before they go, hummingbirds eat as much as they can: "To support this high energy level, a hummingbird will typically gain 25-40% of their body weight before they start migration in order to make the long trek over land and water."
Indeed the hummingbirds have been eating up a storm. Their primary food source in our yard seems to be the orange jewelweed, or touch-me-not, flowers that grow everywhere if you let them. (In the early years of home ownership, I used to cut them back, but now that I'm aware it's such an important food source, I no longer bother.)
I was sitting with my computer in the backyard in the afternoon, doing some general problem solving and answering some emails, when I heard a whir of tiny wings. When I lifted my head, I realized that a little bird was quite close, as it turns out, only about five feet away!
I'd kept my camera ready, hoping to get a few shots of one of the little birds at the feeder, but this was way better, and a much closer view. The individual in this photo is a ruby throat male; you can see the "beard shadow" on its chin. Eat up, little bird, for you will soon have miles and miles and miles to go. . . .
The song that came to mind was Billy Idol singing, "more, more, more," which is from Rebel Yell, one of my favorite Idol tunes. This version features Billy Idol and Miley Cyrus. Check out her Billy-Idol-inspired leather jacket, pants, and sunglasses!
P.S. And here's a fun tip. Do you see those fat green seed pods near the middle of the photo? Look how thick they are with seeds. Each one is packed and ready to go. If you touch one, it will EXPLODE, sending seeds everywhere!