Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cold Night, Sleepy Hummer

Last night brought the first freeze of the season (note the frost cloth draped over the Meyer Lemon tree in the background). I always worry about the resident Anna's Hummingbirds on nights like this, they don't migrate so they have to endure these long freezing nights by going into torpor, a state in which their metabolism is drastically reduced. It's almost like a state of suspended animation and it makes them vulnerable since they are slow to come out of it. They need to fill up with nectar before they find a place to roost at night and then they need to feed as soon as they awaken. I've been filling the feeder that hangs outside my kitchen window almost every evening, it's rare that it isn't empty by then. Note the level of nectar in the feeder shown in the photos below, the feeder was filled the evening before and was 90 percent full first thing in the morning and was reduced to the level shown in little over an hour.

This little gal seemed to have a hard time waking up this morning, 
she reminded me of what I must look like hugging my full mug of coffee in the morning, 
only I don't fluff my feathers to stay warm, 
not that I'm not prickly...

She seems to have been one of the last of the bunch to wake up,
the feeder was already abuzz with a dozen or so hummers a good hour earlier at first light.

For some reason another hummer found the port she was occupying to be tastier than the other (vacant) ports.

She didn't budge.

Some of the rest of the gang came along while she was still trying to wake up.

And then an aggressive male came along and decided to clear everyone else out.

The sleepy one was rather reluctant to go, even after the bully bonked her on the head with his beak...

The feeder was completely empty well before noon, so I treated the hummers to an early refill since I'm spending lots of time in the kitchen today getting a head start on Thanksgiving dinner and I can't resist the show.


  1. I found your thoughts on hummingbirds very interesting. I did not know about torpor and had to look it up...fascinating. A couple years ago we were fortunate to have a hummingbird nest on a low branch near our garden, the eggs and new born baby birds were so, so tiny. I will probably never again see a baby hummingbird, it was really neat.:) Stay warm and have a great Thanksgiving.

  2. Oh wow! How lucky that you have all those little hummingbirds visiting your feeder. Hope they survive the winter.

  3. How wonderful to have hummingbirds in your garden. I can't complain though- this morning there was a flock of rainbow lorikeets in the tree at the back of mine!

  4. A fascinating post and great photos. I was enjoying the sequence so much until the aggressive male came comment! Seriously, though, it's lovely to see them as we don't have anything like them here. We had our first frost last night, so winter is definitely on its way.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  5. Mr. H., I find everything about hummingbirds fascinating. They nest around here but I've not spotted one yet so I've not seen an egg. I've found old nests that have fallen, they are amazing.


    meemsync, I'm always amazing at how the hummers flock to my feeders. I've kept feeder at three different houses now and the previous two locations never drew them in such numbers. The crowds here must be because I'm in a much rural area now.


    Funkbunny, I just checked out lorikeets on the web, what amazing colorful birds, it must be glorious to see a whole flock of them! You luck girl.


    chaiselongue, Male hummers are very territorial and aggressive about protecting their territories. The aerial jousts that competing males join in are amazing, they are incredible fliers. I have three feeders for the hummers, they all flock to two of them and the third one is fiercely guarded by a lone male. It's endlessly entertaining to watch those birds.

  6. Those are beautiful hummers and the picture sequence is very entertaining. We have not been very successful attracting them at this property - we get a few on occassion but they are migrating and do not stay. We keep the feeder out anyway and enjoy them when they do stop by.

  7. Awwwww~~~~~~~~~they are so cute especially the sleepy girl!!!!
    I miss the hummers this time of the year, hopefully they find their way back to our yard next spring.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.