My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

My Morning Alarm Clock

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird!

When I lived in the city . . . . we typically had one, maybe two hummingbirds that regularly visited my feeder. Once I moved into a house in the woods; I quickly learned that the hummingbird feeders not only attract many hummingbirds but they also attract other critters (like bears). Three years ago I had a bear encounter that changed where I have placed my hummingbird feeder. Making the long story short; about 2am in the morning the bear destroyed the feeder, fell “threw” my screen window (was half into my house), broke the window frame and woke me up from a dead sleep. Now if I would like to feed the hummingbirds . . . . I need to place the feeder somewhere on the second floor (out of reach of the critters). The most convenient location was outside my bedroom window. (dial-up people should avoid these videos)

My Morning Alarmclock

About 15 minutes before sunrise each morning (which is about 6am right now) the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will begin fighting for their space at the feeder. When you are a birder, it is hard not to stay awake and give your full attention to their busyness! The males are always trying to protect their territory and the ladies just seem to ignore them. But, where are these hummingbirds coming from? Where are they sleeping at night? Do I have a tree full of hummingbirds waiting for first light and the first crack at my feeders (I always fill the feeders at dusk each evening so they are full in the morning)?

More Hummingbird Clips

Just the other morning I had a Barred Owl vocalizing in the pinetree outside my bedroom window about 5:30 in the morning. I woke up from a dead sleep and started wondering if he’s eating the hummingbirds! Once I was 100% awake (not delirious anymore), the reality reminded me that they are tiny and probably hiding under leaves . . . . avoiding from being eaten at night. Sure enough at 6am the morning the hummingbirds were buzzing around and chirping as they always are.

They Do Sit Still

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Sitting!

Last evening we had temperatures go into the lower 50F’s and when I woke up this morning . . . . I was worrying about the cold (delirious again, temperatures were perfect). The fact of the matter is that hummingbirds have the ability to withstand frost by reducing its oxygen consumption by 75%. This allows the hummingbird to save up to 27% of its daily energy expenditures by dropping its body temperatures around 20C. No wonder they are soo busy in the morning obtaining quick energy!!

Up Close Video Clip

Recently I visited my friend Marilyn at WBU because I needed to purchased an extra large feeder. Marilyn suggested this feeder if I have to fill my current feeders every other day. I ended up laughing because the little buggers had cleaned out this large feeder in about 12 hours the first day I had it placed. Now they can empty both of my feeders in less than 8 hours (young ones are out and about now). The big feeder holds 860g of sugar-water and my medium size feeder holds 505g of sugar-water. Now here is some math for you to do, if a hummingbird who weighs only 4.5 grams (my averaged weight of hummingbirds that I have captured), then how many hummingbirds do I really have visiting my feeders??

Bee Balm and hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Bee Balm!

If my record is seeing 26 individuals at one time . . . . and if they can drink 1365g of sugar-water over 8 hours time, then they must be drinking 11.7 times their body weight?? hmm, is this a realistic number?? To be honest, I have no clue how many times their body weight they can drink but guessing (for a high number) that it could be around 4 times their weight. If a 4.5g hummingbird drinks 1365g of Sugar Water and drinks 4X’s its weight, then I should have 75.8 individuals feeding at my feeder each day. I did a “quick” literature search in the journals and I found in the Wilson Bulletin in 1913 a publication on “Experiments in feeding hummingbirds during seven summers”. Sherman stated, “From these weights one makes the deduction that our Hummingbirds are accustomed to eat of sugar twice their own weight daily”. Hmm, is he talking about just sugar or sugar-water (he doesn’t really come out and say)?? If I estimate that when they eat 2X their body weight with sugar-water . . . . then I am probably seeing around 151.7 individuals visiting my feeders each day (hmm, I don’t think so). But since I dilute the 1 part sugar with 4 parts water . . . . we are really looking at is the hummingbirds are drinking is 20% sugar to 80% water. If they are able to take on twice their body weight in sugar then I should have 30.3 hummingbirds visiting my feeders! WOW, isn’t that some crazy math?? The 30.3 hummingbirds visiting my feeders is a more “realistic number” and very close to my original 26 individuals. I guess I didn’t really think about the diluting with water part of the math (but was able to work my way through it). I tried emailing a fellow bander “Bill” from Hilton Pond earlier this week. He is without a doubt the Ruby-throated Hummingbird expert and I was wondering how accurate my numbers really were. . . . but he never responded back. I guess my 1913 paper will have to do for now!!

37 responses

  1. “dial-up people should avoid these videos” – doesn’t it feel *good* to say that Tom!!
    Wow, what a great alarm clock, for sure! Well, if you’re ready to get up then! These are awesome videos Tom! It would be interesting to know exactly how many feed in a day. I could watch them feed forever, how do you ever make it out of your home to go to work!

    13 August 2007 at 8:45 pm

  2. Lisa

    Those are some awesome videos Tom!

    13 August 2007 at 9:29 pm

  3. Didi

    That is the only way I would wake up early in the morning and be happy about it.
    I can’t believe how many hummers you have there
    beautiful and amazing!

    13 August 2007 at 9:31 pm

  4. Actually what a fabulous math project for the kiddo’s while they are out of school! Your footage is great by the way. (As well as your photos – beautiful shots!) I’ve never seen an Anna (until now, I count photos but not birding books.) The gals and guys on my feeder the most are rufous & black chinned. Excellent post… this must explain why I’m so busy filling up my feeders. The thing I like the most about hummingbirds is they don’t seem to be a slight bit interested in us humans.

    13 August 2007 at 9:41 pm

  5. Wow that is sweet! I live in the city so when i get a couple of hummingbirds it is a big deal here. My neighbors are loving it also. It is amazing how much they can drink. Wish I had their metabolism.

    13 August 2007 at 9:49 pm

  6. It’s constant! I have two feeders with 6 ports – total. Need to get a feeder like that. It’s a constant battle for nectar as I see ten or more at a time claiming their space. I’m spending hours each week cleaning the two feeders and boiling nectar.

    Forget the math. I just know they slurp up the stuff faster than I can make it.

    I love these videos, Tom. They’re SO GOOD! My photos pale in comparison and one day I’ll learn to make a video of the little green army!

    13 August 2007 at 10:45 pm

  7. Those are the coolest videos I have ever seen! I gotta go tell everyone about them.

    13 August 2007 at 10:49 pm

  8. Wow! I’m envious. I never get more than one hummer at a time. Although I do know that there are more since I catch a few chasing each other away from the feeders – territorial, no doubt. Love those videos, Tom. And to think you couldn’t do that before “satellite!” ;o)

    13 August 2007 at 11:43 pm

  9. jimbeau34

    Tom the videos are soo enjoyable ! ….you have an outstanding blog and I enjoy every visit.

    14 August 2007 at 12:16 am

  10. These are truly amazing photos. I have never seen so many hummingbirds at one time. I did see two hummingbirds chasing each other today, that was funny. I had a hummingbird nest once, it was so sweet, but it was lost during a move. Nita

    14 August 2007 at 1:20 am

  11. I’m beyond jealous. Anna’s Hummingbirds will NOT share a feeder. I see at most one at a time — okay, when they are fledging, I’ve occasionally seeing one bring its baby and then that’s it. One at a time — and if a regular sees another hummer at ITS feeder, the fight is on. It’s crazy.

    I can’t complain too much though because I get them all winter but still those shots of so many hummers at one feeder, wow!

    14 August 2007 at 1:47 am

  12. OH wow… thanks for the hummer fix. Ours have been so scarce this season. Seeing all yours makes me salivate. Wonderful video!!!

    14 August 2007 at 6:53 am

  13. What a terrible wake up that bear must have been! I envy your hoards of hummers. We have about half a dozen and enjoy them immensely.

    14 August 2007 at 8:37 am

  14. Wow, I’m so impressed and jealous at the same time. Incredible pictures…..btw…Barbara sent me.

    14 August 2007 at 8:42 am

  15. Hi Tom,
    That story about the bear was crazy…not something I’d want to experience at 2 AM!
    Those hummingbird clips are awesome! That gets to be a lot of work filling the feeders every day, but the rewards of seeing that many hummers all day long would definitely be worth it.

    14 August 2007 at 9:31 am

  16. Horray for satellite! Those are just remarkable videos! I was going to blog about my first hummingbird coming to my deck in years (I saw it yesterday)……but I think I’ll pass on that one after seeing this post, ha. How wonderful to live out in nature. I’m so envious.

    14 August 2007 at 10:35 am

  17. Great videos! I am amazed to see how many hummingbirds show up at one time there. I’ve had 3 or 4 at once, but nothing like this. My closest encounter with the hummingbirds came in June. I was bringing a freshly-filled feeder out from the house when a hummingbird landed on it and began drinking, while I was still carrying it. A thrilling moment! Your videos capture that thrill.

    14 August 2007 at 11:03 am

  18. Thanks Everyone for such kind comment!

    @ Pam – it is hard to go to work when the birds are like this!
    @ Lisa – thanks 🙂
    @ Didi – many for sure, thanks!
    @ aullori – I will have to believe many homeschools will be trying this to estimate how many are visiting! Do note, it doesn’t factor in other nectar that they are collecting and is all in theory! Thanks and would love to see your hummingbirds!
    @ Toni – thanks and was when I lived in the city also! Just not enough food for them in the city! You want to see many hummingbirds, go to the forest!
    @ Mary – WBU is the place for sure! I am making containers of sugar-water also! Ugg but well worth it! Thanks again
    @ Barb – thanks and I noticed from the stats that many are visiting from you!
    @ Mary C– always one around when they are not chasing each other around!
    @ Jimbeau – thanks for visiting!
    @ nita from red tin – thanks and it is great when they do this! Satellite guy kept getting buzzed by the hummingbirds (instead of bees)!
    @ Liz – these guys don’t like to share also but when you get soo many, the male just gives up trying to protect! I have even seen the male on top, pulling the felmale off! Its soo funny to watch!
    @ Jayne – Thanks and you know where to come in the winter to make you smile!
    @ threecollie – something I will never forget for sure! Thanks
    @ Lazy Daisy – thanks for coming over and thanks to barb again!
    @ Ruthie – hmm, surprised I have not blogged about that story before, it’s a classic! I one day should do the longer version of the story! that’s a hoot! I wonder if I still have those photos?
    @ Linda – yeah! Now I can see you clips easier! Congrats on your hummingbird! It is fun for sure!
    @ Robin – thanks and 3 -4 hummingbirds are easy to maintain! WOW, it sounds like that hummingbird was very thirsty to land while holding the feeder!

    14 August 2007 at 11:31 am

  19. BTW: If anyone was wondering, I ended up taking 3 gig’s (camera memory) of video to make these clips! I did edit the video’s down so they were not TOO long! Although, I had though about doing one VERY long clip!

    14 August 2007 at 11:34 am

  20. That’s some pretty cool scientific work – not to mention an amazing collection of hummingbird pictures. I can’t even imagine having that many hummingbirds coming by daily – it must be amazing to see live, particularly when they are all there at the same time.

    14 August 2007 at 1:38 pm

  21. Sherri

    Wow – great videos Tom! I have 2 or 3 hummers that visit my feeder like clockwork. I can’t imaging having to keep up with that many!

    14 August 2007 at 3:31 pm

  22. Wonderful videos!
    I could watch them all day. I have four hummers, sometimes 8 if my neighbors do not fill their feeders. I think I too would like to live in the woods, bears and all!

    14 August 2007 at 5:19 pm

  23. Very nice! I wish we got this many hummers.

    14 August 2007 at 8:17 pm

  24. OK. Those hummers have me blown away. The videos are the most excellent thing I’ve seen on a blog.


    Now Tom – I don’t think I’m telling you something you don’t know when I mention that bears can CLIMB. Delirious or not – I think I’d be keeping a bat beside my bed:0)

    14 August 2007 at 8:58 pm

  25. Karen

    Those vids are just wonderful! I only see one hummingbird come to my feeder at a time. I have never seen more than one there. Do you think I’m seeing the same one all the time or different ones just never together at the feeder at the same time?
    It’s a little black one with red at the front of the neck with lots of white too. Not like these green ones I’m seeing in your video.

    14 August 2007 at 9:44 pm

  26. Marg

    I’m so jealous!! I love the Hummers and look how many you have!! Wow thanks for sharing the videos, at least I can get my fix here.

    They are so cute!

    14 August 2007 at 9:54 pm

  27. @ Marty – thanks and that reminds me I need to make more feed!
    @ Sherri – thanks and its all worth it!
    @ Sherry – thanks and imagine my neighbors when I don’t fill my feeders!
    @ Rurality – I am happy to share, thanks!
    @ Cathy – thanks but many other sites have just as good stuff! Ummm Yep one fell through my porch window (but had my porch door open to the house)! They can climb trees but not the side of houses! LOL!
    @ Karen – thanks and only me trying my best for my first day my “Raven” gives me good internet!
    @ Marg – Didn’t I have that many when you were here? O, Wait, you were here only when it was dark!

    14 August 2007 at 10:16 pm

  28. Hi Tom! Your videos are so wonderful! Thank you for sharing these wonderful birds with us. 🙂

    15 August 2007 at 9:33 am

  29. Birdbander11

    WOW TOM, that was a long blog with alot of videos. I can tell already that you are loving the new internet when i clicked on the “Play Video” I was expectuing a 15 second video not 2 mintute videos. Did it still take all day to upload them all though? I did not realize that that bear broke into your house three years ago it feels like it was last year!

    15 August 2007 at 10:18 am

  30. What a wonderful way to wake up! And it’s great that you get so many. If I get two on the back deck, they spend their time chasing each other away instead of eating – even though I have two feeders and a very large cardinal flower.

    15 August 2007 at 3:20 pm

  31. Grace

    Glad we have good internet at work. The videos are awesome!!

    15 August 2007 at 6:24 pm

  32. Garth N. Baker

    Lucky you!

    I have maybe 3 that I have seen at atime,although there definately may be more. I fill my feeder weekly and it is nevered emptied. My sister on the other Hand has 3 feeders going at this time of year,2 of which are 4 ports and the 3rd has 8 ports. It is quite a sight to sit on her Veranda and watch all the Action!
    As for the math,I could never have done that much figuring.Math was never a strong point for Me.I am sure that evaporation and spillage due to wind would also be factors, as would Wasps!
    Excellant read!

    15 August 2007 at 10:43 pm

  33. Bonnie

    Great shots. We have three feeders in our yard so I cook up food for our hummies 4 or 5 times a week. We have also had bears knock down our feeders as well as raccoons. Every once in a while titmice stop in for a sip, too. I enjoy reading your blog as well as my nephew, Corey’s.

    16 August 2007 at 7:50 am

  34. @ Lisa – thanks
    @ BB11 – I sure am and one of those clips took around 15 minutes to upload! Sure did feel like yesterday!
    @ MLight – Yes when you want to wake up! LOL! They are soo much fun to watch for sure!
    @ Grace – thanks for watching!
    @ Garth – How wonderful that they are coming to your feeders like that! Fun for sure! It’s easy math if you figure out the formula but I am still not sure if it’s right or not! But, does help give a good estimate of how many we have around! Thanks!
    @ Bonnie – Thanks and sorry to hear about your critters! They sure keep us on our feet! Thanks for your kind comments and thanks for visiting!

    16 August 2007 at 2:36 pm

  35. Mon@arch, these are really fabulous! Yes, I wouldn’t mind getting up in the morning if this is what I had to look forward to. Better than an alarm clock, but probably just as noisy. I’m glad you were able to figure out a way to feed the hummers and thwart the bear (ohmigod!).

    18 August 2007 at 8:29 pm

  36. K.C.

    I enjoy your site and love the pics. I saw this article about fluff balls and thought I would forward this on to you.

    Keep up the great work.


    13 November 2007 at 2:34 pm

  37. thanks lost and KC!! BTW: I am part of this Project Owlnet and know these guys! thanks!

    13 November 2007 at 2:49 pm

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