Fall Hummingbird Migration Photo Journal
Hummingbird Migration in the Fall is a sight to behold. Before Hurricane Katrina swept through destroying thousands of acres of habitat, it was even more impressive. These days, each week from August through mid October, several hundred hummingbirds (mostly Ruby Throated) will visit our dozen or more feeders. As the weather gets cooler and the need to fatten up for the trip across the Gulf of Mexico grows stronger, they are more willing to share the feeders.
Fall is also the time when the western species of hummingbirds begin to show up and many stay for the winter. Through the years, our habitat has hosted Rufous, Allens, Calliope, Broad tailed, Black-chinned and Buff-bellied hummingbirds.
It's fun to watch the antics of these tiny birds as they gather to feed before their dangerous trip across the Gulf of Mexico. I selected some of my best photos of hummingbirds in fall and put together a photo journal. I hope you enjoy it.
Many of the photos seen here can be purchased in Naturegirl7's Zazzle Shop as print-on-demand products such as posters, cards, apparel, mugs, etc.
Male Ruby photo and all others by Y.L. Bordelon aka naturegirl7, All Rights Reserved
Fall Migration Poster on Zazzle
In late August and September masses of hummingbirds descend upon our habitat here in southeastern Louisiana. Before Hurricane Katrina took down so many trees, as many as a thousand Ruby-throated Hummingbirds would visit our flowers and feeders in any given week. Since Katrina, the numbers are lower, but have been steadily increasing so that now several hundred will spend a few days with us, fattening up for the annual trip south to their wintering grounds. You can hear the chittering and fussing as they try to stake out the best feeders or flowers.
Female Rufous Poster on Zazzle
Along with the Ruby-throated hummingbirds, we often see some western species like Rufous, Allens, Broad tailed, Calliope, Buff bellied and Black chinned hummingbirds. These hummers are more colorful than the resident Ruby-throateds. Sometimes one or two of these western species will spend the winter here.
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds
Bright Red Male Ruby-throat on Zazzle
The show actually begins in July, when the local adult males begin to congregate and really guard the feeders.
One of my favorite hummingbird guides - great photos and information.
By late August, they look like they are wearing pantaloons because the fat has built up under their skin and it fluffs the feathers up.
These local males depart and the local adult females follow in a few weeks.
Juvenile Ruby-throat Postcards on Zazzle
Last to go are the immature birds that hatched out that year.
Male Ruby-throated Posters on Zazzle
The local birds are soon replaced by a group of birds from just north of us. These birds will stay for a week or so and then head south to another good feeding spot. And so it goes through the fall. This happens all over the United States.
During September numbers increase as the urge to migrate grows stronger. The birds that come through in September probably nest in the northern most states.
We put up a lot of different feeders. As migration progresses, we use larger feeders. Most of our feeders are made by Perky Pet.
Hummingbirds at the Feeders PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
8 oz. Perky Pet
We start fall migration with this size feeder, but soon numbers require more feeders. We place 2-3 of these in groups on each side of the house.
Ruby-throat Postcards on Zazzle
By mid October only a few immature birds are left. Occasionally a Ruby-throat will spend the entire winter here, but that's not usually what happens.
30 oz. Perky Pet Feeder
We bring out the larger feeders in September. In the past, we would put up a few that were much larger than this one and they would be empty in a couple of days.
Female Rufous Hummingbird Posters on Zazzle
Rufous Often Winter in Louisiana
Very often, when the Ruby-throats thin out in October, one of the western species of hummingbirds (like a Rufous) shows up. Some say that they were here earlier, but we just don't notice them because of all the ruckus that the Ruby-throats make.
You usually hear a Rufous before you see it. Their angry tck call is easy distinguish from the Ruby throat's musical chitters.
Rufous call from Nature Songs North American Bird Sounds.
Grand Master 48 oz. Perky Pet
Some years we have to put these up, along with the 30 oz. ones.
What is Hummingbird migration like where you live?
This year an adult female Rufous arrived in August. We first observed and got pictures of her on August 17, 2010.
We thought we saw a band on her left leg, but couldn't be sure. She was very jumpy and it took several days to even get a halfway decent picture of her and it was on the wrong side to see the band.
On August 21, Linda Beall came to try to capture her, but as soon as the traps went up, she took off for parts unknown. We put up a "dummy" trap so that she would get used to going into a wire enclosure and hope for a capture in a couple of weeks. She came back the next day.
During the next few days, my wife finally got a slightly cloudy picture of her, showing the band on her left leg. This means that, more than likely, she is a returnee.
Rufous Female on Zazzle
Rufous Female in Bush by naturegirl7 taken in January of 2010.
Linda has banded at least 5 different female Rufous in our habitat. In November of 2002, January of 2003, January of 2006, August of 2006 and February of 2010.
Yvonne stalked the elusive hummingbird and was able to get some pretty good pictures of her. We are comparing them to photos we took of the others. Sometimes you can identify adult female Rufous by the pattern of their throat patch.
Rufous Females PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
But the only sure way is to read the band number. So far Yvonne has only been able to get a partial id. We can make out the numbers 70 on one photo and a possible 2, 3, or 5 on another.
We think that if she is a returnee, the most likely candidate is the one that was banded in August of 2006. It just so happens that the band number of the August, 2006 Rufous female is C25701. You can see it on the record sheet on the August, 2006 bird in the photo above.
September Rufous Poster on Zazzle
The day the photos of the band were taken, the Rufous was being bombarded by multiple adult and immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds who were trying to take over the feeder that she had claimed.
Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Poster on Zazzle
The next day, there was an adult male Ruby throat on her favorite perch, guarding the feeder.
We hope that she just moved around to the other side of the house or to another spot that is not so crowded. We have 11 feeders up on different sides of the house and in the yard, plus many hummingbird flowers. We are monitoring all, hoping for a glimpse of the Rufous.
Hummingbird Migration Explained
A licensed bander visits out habitat to band hummingbirds in fall and winter.
Hummzinger also make high quality hummingbird feeders. These are very easy to clean and many people prefer them.
© 2010 Yvonne L. B.