Although many regions of America have a large population of hummingbirds of various species, some regions have reduced numbers. However, many people are under the impression that they are nonexistent in their region. Last summer in Edmonton, Alberta, I carefully tracked how many hummingbirds passed through my yard in just the small number of days that I was around. This is not our hummingbird property, but I'm trying to make a strong effort in attracting them to the city as well. Edmonton is not far from the northern most region of the Ruby-throats' territory, which means the numbers are significantly lower than regions south of here. In saying this, the population is still strong, and if you asked anyone in surrounding areas if they've seen hummingbirds, you'd get a convincing "Yes". The problem with city residents is that they don't believe there's a worthwhile population to put forth the effort in even trying.
I will give my city as an example in describing my findings. I don't live near the river valley, but in a populated residential area. If I didn't know any better I would say there would be none around. After seeing countless numbers in the country, I've learned to pick up on their movements quite easily. But in saying this my wife and I oftentimes spot several sightings while the other is busy working in the garden, without the other noticing. Many residents within the same city as myself have told me they've never seen a hummingbird in Edmonton. There's many reasons for that. First, they need a purpose to show up in your yard. Feeders and flowers are a mandatory requirement for attracting hummingbirds. Secondly, would you be able to recognize their movement if you saw one? Those veterans to the hobby would understand exactly what I'm saying when I tell you they've got a unique flight pattern. They don't skip through the air like a Sparrow, they travel similar to that of a Bee, in straight travel mode. The time that people most often recognize them is when they hop from flower to flower, and then easily draw attention to themselves.
There was one young male that spent a few days in our yard this last summer. He was one of 8 different hummingbirds that I spotted. He repeatedly flew in and out of our yard, perched up in the tree, sat at the feeders and made himself very obvious. Yet, as I watched him perform his acrobatics around the yard, not one person saw him. People would walk down the sidewalk, neighbors made noise, and traffic was moving all around. He sat in the tree and watched it all going on. He couldn't have made himself more obvious. For 30 second stretches he would hover in the sky feeding on insects. No one noticed.
This young Ruby-throat sat in the Russian olive tree and observed its surroundings. It's easy to see how these birds can go unnoticed with how well they disguise into their surroundings. Watch the skies more, and be aware that these birds are far more common than you think. Edmonton, Alberta. 2016
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.