Bird in the Hand

I'm fairly certain I've said this before in the blog, but I'm going to say it again.

I get that hummingbirds are incredible birds, but I don't get it in photos. I will look at magazines with incredible photos and I'll glance at them and think, "Yes, that's a pretty bird." But I don't get the wow factor until I see one in front of me at a feeder or flower and then it hits me, "How is that a bird and not a bug?"

Unfortunately, today I got to experience one in the hand. We get hummingbirds from time to time in the nets at Carpenter, but the more experienced banders are the ones that get them out--which is fine with me. Today, I heard a loud thump on the windows at Mr. Neil's (a bird hit the glass)--a problem we've been trying to fix. It's hard to stop Cooper's hawks and sharp-shinned hawks from driving birds into the windows. When I first heard the thump, I thought is was finch. I poked my head out the window and found a female ruby-throated hummingbird splayed on the grass. I dashed out and picked her up.

She was breathing and there was no visible blood from her beak. The hummingbirds have been fighting over feeders and territory, so I wonder if she flew into the window after being chased away from the feeder. No other bird species were in a panic when she flew like when the hawks are around. Several finches continued at the finch feeder oblivious to what happened.

You could see around her bill that she had little traces of spider webs--she has been gathering nesting material. Ruby-throated hummingbirds use spider webs to bind the nesting material together.

I took a moment to photograph her feet. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are unable to walk with their feet. They are pretty much there just for perching. If she is sitting on a branch and wants to turn around, she will have to use her wings to fly up, turn around and then land back on the perch facing the other way. Dear me, I'm looking at my finger tip in this photo and realizing I need to exfoliate.

Right as I took this photo, her eyes started to ope nand you could see her tongue slipping out at the tip of her bill. I quit taking photos and tried to keep her perched on my hand, facing away from me, so she wouldn't see me behind her--I thought that might help keep her calm. I had some nectar with me and set a drop of nectar on her bill, she licked it up. I did that a couple more times and then she straightened up, buzzed her wings and before I knew it she was hovering above my hand and then headed for the cover of a nearby pine tree.

It was an honor to have a hummer in hand, but I really do wish it had been under much different circumstances. There was something kind of surreal holding something so seemingly fragile yet has the ability to survive and nest outdoors and migrate single handedly across the Gulf of Mexico.

After a few minutes in the tree of preening and rest, she flew back over to one of the hummingbird feeders and I was able to digiscope a photo. She's the one on the left--you can see a couple of feathers on the back of her head are still out of place. It was interesting that this time a second female came in to feed and not chase her off. We have three nectar feeders going, but at the moment this Hummzinger is the most popular with the hummingbirds.

This photo isn't the best. But I love it. I had turned off the camera accidentally while I was digiscoping the hummingbirds. I turned it back on and as I was zooming in, I took a photo--that's why you can see the vignetting around the image. Anyway, as I shot the photo, a goldfinch flew in front of the feeder. Just cracked me up.