I'm kind of obsessed with hummingbirds.
I'm not really sure that's a secret at this point. I talk constantly of my love for the little feathered friends, and count the days until I can put the feeder back up. I like to put one out front and one out back. I tried doubling up, but then one particular hoard-y male tried to dominate both feeders. I think it was tiring him out, so I moved the second one out front.
But I have to say, for all the years I've been putting out feeders, I've only ever seen male and female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. I began to wonder if perhaps they were the only ones that came to Maine. I went down a hummingbird rabbit hole to figure it out. And for the most part, pretty much all you'll ever see is Ruby-Throated hummers. But... we've had a few rare visitors.
The most common is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
It's the one we see most often flitting about the yard, draining all the feeders around of their delicious nectar. But let's be real, they can kind of be jerks when it comes to a food source. They'll dive bomb each other, squeak at each other. Males will even do it to females. I guess they don't really get the concept of mating...
Ironically, the female Ruby-throated hummers don't have the signature red feathers on their neck that the males have. They also seem to be a bit more slender, whereas the males are kind of squat and chubby. Kind of like me and my wife! Except I'm tall and chubby. Oh well. Although, I wish we did head to South America for winter.
One of the rare ones is the Rufous Hummingbird.
These cute little birds have what's described as "rusty, copper-orange rufous crown, flanks, and back with an iridescent orange-red throat." But naturally, the females don't look much like this at all. And to add more confusion. sometimes the males have green feathers on their heads as well.
In Maine, we don't see them very often. they're a bit on the mysterious side. They're even more aggressive than Ruby Throats as far as hoarding food sources. They'll even go after birds that are much larger than they are. Sounds more like the Chicken Hawk from the old Loony Tunes cartoons.
Occasionally you may even see a Mexican Violetear.
These ones aren't normally seen much in Maine, but because of their slightly nomadic lifestyle, they've found their way up here from time to time. They have delightful colors and would easily stand out next to a Ruby-Throated hummer. You'd definitely know if one was poking around your yard.
Again, they're not remotely common. It seems for our climate up here, we'll almost exclusively see Ruby-Throated, but there's still one more hummer that makes to Maine from time to time.
Last but not least, you'll might see Calliope Hummingbirds here and there.
These are interesting because they're the smallest breeding bird in the United States. Full grown adults only have a wingspan of 3-4 inches, and that's it. They tend to prefer rockier areas, and leave a lot earlier seasonally than other hummers, so it also makes them a rare sight here in Maine. You can usually spot the males with their "scruffy" feathers, like in this photo.
But they do pop here and there. But for real... at the end of the day, 9 times out of ten you're going to see a Ruby-Throated hummer. And as fast as they fly, you may not even noticed one of these other ones just flew past. But, watching hummers do their thing is definitely one of my favorite Maine activities. How about you?