Toddler Hummingbird

Learning to Use a Feeder

A young rufuous hummingbird (left) learned to drink from our feeder today and lucky me got to witness it. This morning while making tea I noticed a hummer fly in and sit right next to another hummer who was feeding.

“Hmmm,” I thought. “Hummingbirds generally fight each other, not sit together.”

Then the one who flew in began to beg for food from the other. It put its little beak up in the air and opened it, hoping for breakfast. The mother completely ignored its young offspring and kept drinking. The message was clear. It’s time for you to learn how to do this.

After several attempts at begging, the little bird started jabbing its bill into the red plastic. “Dang,” I could almost hear it thinking. “This is not getting me any food.”

Then the little hummer flew underneath the feeder and tried jabbing at it. Still nothing. Back it flew to the top of the feeder and began begging again. Mom was not impressed. She kept feeding. The little hummer started jabbing its bill at the feeder again and BINGO in went its beak. The little guy got excited and started flapping madly with its beak in the hole.

“Uh oh,” I thought. “Its beak is shorter than its mothers and the feeder is only about a third full. I am not sure it’s getting any sugar water.” The two hummers flew off. I made more sugar water and filled the feeder. They were back in minutes.

Once again the whole scene repeated itself—begging, ignoring behavior, more begging, more ignoring behavior, finally success at sticking its beak in the hole and resting on the perch drinking.

Such a miracle to see one of nature’s vulnerable moments!

The bird on the left is the young. The bird on the right is the mother. The photo below shows the characteristic rufous hummingbird reddish tail.

  1. Barbara Joy Laffey said:

    So sweet in so many ways!

  2. Gretchen Staebler said:

    What a fabulous treat! And lovely words–I saw it, too. And beautiful photographs. Thank you! I need to get a feeder.

  3. Kate Lipkis said:

    I watched recently a “nest cam” as two hummingbird eggs hatched and the little ones fledged. This is when technology sings to me. To be able to be “one foot” away from this beautiful turn of events was thrilling. From a nest for one, eventually the mother was hanging off the side, needing to pull her neck back so her long beak could make it down the babies’ throats.

  4. Rose Hood said:

    Mom is great role model and example! Lovely photos and touching experience. Many thanks!

  5. Mary M. said:

    This was a lovely post. Thank you!

  6. What a lovely story. great clear photos too! You brought us right up close to all the action.

  7. Thank you for sharing beautiful photos and words. Peace, love and compassion for us all!

  8. What a sweet and peaceful story. Thanks for being in the moment and passing that experience on to us.

  9. Julie Mitchell said:

    Ann, it’s wonderful to see you blogging! Through your words and beautiful photographs I can imagine myself walking beside you as you share the wonders of nature.

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