Summer Outside my Window
Summer brings many different birds outside my window, but the one that you really should watch to get a glimpse of is the ruby-throated hummingbird. While many people have told me that they have lots of them, we have never had many. We have planted flowers and vines that they like, but still not many so it’s a thrill when I see one.
Male and female hummingbirds can be identified simply based on the color of their feathers. Male hummingbirds have bright feathers to attract females and to deter males by expressing dominance. A patch of brightly colored feathers on the necks of males is known as a
gorget. A gorget’s color range includes red, purple, orange, blue and pink. When hit with sunlight, the gorget will glisten due to refraction, or the bending of sunlight against the different sized feathers. Males can make the gorget appear black to avoid attracting predators.
Unlike males, females have no bright feathers to display. Females are often brown and a dull green in color. Immature male hummingbirds typically resemble females in that they have no bright feathers.
Even with summer outside my window it is hard to tell; females are typically larger than males. For example, females usually weigh between 2.6 and 4.6 grams, while a male weigh between 2.4 and 3.6 grams. This size difference is because female lay eggs and their bodies need to be able to support this process, from laying the eggs to sitting upon them to keep them warm.
Hummingbirds do not mate for life, and males play no role in caring for their offspring. After mating, the female will build a nest and raise her offspring on her own. Females chase away males that come too close to their nest, as the bright males attract predators.
In general, male hummingbirds are much more aggressive than females. They need to be aggressive to attract females and to defend their territory. Males also do a lot of chirping to attract females or to bicker with other males. Both male and female migrate to warmer temperatures, often traveling more than 2,000 miles to breeding grounds.
If you have tray in your backyard, the joys of watching hummingbirds congregate around them are hard to deny. If you find that these wee birds often grace you with their presences for weeks at a time, only to suddenly and inexplicably disappear, you’re not alone.
What is summer like outside your window? If you find interest, please comment.