Country Birder... and Butterflies 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
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Photo of female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Hummingbirds are one of the favorites, and we look forward to their return every year.  This year I noticed the first hummingbird on May 9, and had the feeder up for a week prior.  The season seemed to start out slowly, and I was concerned that numbers were diminished for some reason in the area.  We've had a mild spring compared to the past two years, and this year was the first spring out of three that flowering trees/shrubs haven't been severely damaged or stunted from late freezes or hail.  I suspected part of the inactivity at the feeders were due to an abundance of natural food sources.  Whatever the cause (cool weather, timing, natural food sources), the hummers are back in large quantities and full of exuberance as of the first weekend of June.  My concerns about declining numbers seem to be unfounded at this point.
Central Indiana - June 8, 2008
Photo of male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Note the difference between the male in this photo and the female above; mainly the throat coloration. The female has no black or red on her throat.  The male sometimes shows just the black coloration, depending on the bird's posture at the moment.
Central Indiana - June 8, 2008
Photo of male Ruby-throated Hummingbird scratching cheek with foot.  This male sat for a long period of time in the ornamental crab tree preening himself while jealously guarding the nearby six-port feeder from fellow hummers.
Central Indiana - June 13, 2008
Photo of male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, stretching and fluffing feathers during a lengthy preening session.  I saw a picture of a hummingbird in a similar neck-stretching position on a bird identification online forum.  The person posting the picture was concerned the bird was diseased or malformed.  This hummingbird does look odd!  Who would guess that a hummingbird's neck is so long when the normal position makes them appear to almost to lack a neck entirely.  I wonder if there's any scientific study showing that a bird's neck is as long as its beak?
Central Indiana - June 13, 2008

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