I never like to have a young hummingbird show up in my yard and then leave without learning the feeders. The reason I say this is because when a hummingbird learns a feeder, its drive and desire to return to that same food source increases substantially. One feeder can contain more nectar than an entire garden, and it's all condensed into one handy little package that's neatly laid out right behind a comfortable perch. It's like fine dining for hummingbirds.
After most of our hummingbirds left early on the 17th of August, I didn't really expect to have any more really young birds show up. Well, it just so happens that one did. First indication that it was a very young bird was that it spent an enormous amount of time in the flowers. The feeders were open and obvious but had little effect on him. After feeding in the flowers for a little while, he did notice the shiny red object hanging above him. He flew up to it, admired it, and right back into the flowers. He flew to another cluster of flowers, and after feeding for a lengthy time he noticed another beautiful red object nearby. He flew up to it with the same reaction, and right back to the flowers again. The third time was a bit different. He fed at the flowers, noticed the shiny red object, and once again flew up to it. I put training feeders around to connect the young birds to the feeders a little bit easier. This feeder had more realistic flowers instead of the fake looking plastic ones that feeders typically have. These training flowers looked a little more realistic and enticing. He still flew up, somewhat cautious, and slowly proceeded to the flower. He did the quick beak in beak out, and then hesitated for a few seconds while he analyzed the flavor. At that very moment life would be different forever. He clumsily grabbed onto the perch, inserted his bill, and drank until he had a nectar migraine. It would be interesting to read his mind over the next 10 minutes. He drank, pooped, drank, pooped, and continued this for 10 minutes. I kept looking below it to see if my cup was in the line of fire. I couldn't see an expression, but I certainly could see the excitement by his endless indulgence. When he flew, he went to another connecting feeder about 60 feet away. Those fake plastic flowers on the feeder were no longer an issue. He connected the nectar to the red bottle immediately. Now I know that when his time comes to migrate, there's not a chance that he'll pass up another feeder again.
Here is just a small bit of evidence he left on the table, very close to my cup. When he left the feeder, I went up to see if my cup runneth over. He did miss it by about 6 inches, but it was evaporating as I captured the image. I would guess this was only half of what he left behind, as he fed there for 10 full minutes. Within a couple more minutes all the evidence disappeared.
The proof was in the nectar, and the hummingbird poop was nearly in the cup, but I know for certain he will remain happy as long as he sticks around the garden.
Young Ruby-throat hummingbird. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. August 17th, 2019.
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