There is an unreasonable joy to be had from the observation of small birds going about their bright, oblivious business.
I was out pulling some weeds in our yard jungle one day this week when I suddenly realized there was a high-pitched peeping sound coming from the stand of Common Milkweed a few feet away. It didn’t sound like any insect or frog I recognized, so I eased around the milkweed stems and was surprised to see what I assume was a young Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched on a plant support. It was incessantly squeaking (or peeping, not sure which best describes the noise it was making). I stepped a little closer, wondering if the bird was okay, and it just turned its head, looked at me, and continued squeaking. So, I went inside, grabbed my camera and phone, and came back out. Yup, still squeaking.
I took a few pictures with my DSLR and a macro lens and then decided to do a quick iPhone video to share.
–I heard the squeaking and walked over to find this hummingbird peeping (iPhone video from about 3 feet away)
A few seconds after I finished the video clip, the bird lifted off and flew to a nearby tree branch, at least confirming that it could fly. I went about my yard work and encountered this little hummingbird a few more times, usually down low near or, on one occasion, sitting on one of the hummingbird feeders. It was perched a bit awkwardly, up on top of the feeding port instead of on the foothold in front of the hole. I watched it feed for a minute or more (a long time for a hummingbird to feed). I was standing only a couple of feet away and I guess I was too close for the other hummingbirds to swoop in and chase the little guy off. I’m not sure if this was a young fledgling bird begging for food or what it was doing sitting there squeaking so much. We have four feeders out and a bunch of summer blooms right now and the yard has at least 6 or 7 hummingbirds that are constantly doing battle for supremacy at the feeders. I wonder if this little guy has just been intimidated to the point that it is difficult for it to feed. If anyone has any experience with this type of behavior in hummingbirds or any other thoughts, please post them in the comments.
I also think it’s a ruby-throated fledging. That’s by far the smallest I have ever seen. Although I have not seen those behaviors in hummingbirds, I’ve seen many of the same in other species. Very cool sighting, Mike!
Hi Mike! I apologize; I’m being asked to log in each time I try to post this comment, which I do, but I don’t see my comment. So, it might turn up multiple times. I loved your post, as always, and I wondered if you’d seen Carole Turek’s hummingbird website/videos, which I recently came across: https://www.hummingbirdspot.com/
Maybe she or her site or her fellow enthusiasts could shed more light on your little fledgling’s situation. I was just glad to hear it could fly, since that issue was a concern/fear! Thanks so much! AnnaLee
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks, AnnaLee, I’ll check that out.
very probably calling for its mother to come feed it. Hope the little guy finds its way to the flowers and nectar you’ve provided.
Yeah, that’s my guess as well. Thanks.
I had a Humming Bird landing on my shoulder while camping last year. It was on a birthday of a loved family member that passed away. It just sat there for maybe a minute or so. Tilting its head like you write about. So I was thinking it was the universe sending me a message that all is okay. 🤗
More scientifically reasoning would say, as I was wearing a very flowery shirt, it perhaps thought I was a giant flower. 😅
In your photo, it doesn’t even seem to have its tail feathers yet, so definitely a fledgling. Their tail feathers can’t fit in the nest, so those don’t emerge until after the baby has left the nest.
I’m thinking that you provide a very welcoming environment and the parents trust that. We had a Carolina Wren family on our front porch just a few steps away from the door. They were even coaching the nestling.
You may be right, Jeff!
Hi Petra…that is very cool. When a good naturalist friend of mine passed away several years ago (he helped with research on bats with the museum also), a Big Brown Bat came the next week and took up residence under our eaves. Hi widow was sure it was a sign.
That is a precious memory as well, Mike.