Late Summer Birding

September is my one of my favorite months for many reasons: the change of summer to fall, birthdays (both for Dave and me), fall migration, getting paid again (teacher life lol). September also happens to be one of the busiest time of the year because of all the back-to-school events. Therefore, I don’t get to go birding much as I wanted to at the beginning of September.

However, the weather has been pretty mild here in New Jersey lately compared to the “indian summer” that we usually get. We’ve had some beautiful weekends/afternoons, so Dave and I have been trying to go birding as much as possible. I have some other posts I want to write/2 upcoming hiking trips, but since I’m exhausted from back-to-school night, I figured I’d share some of our recent late summer birding pictures. Enjoy! 🙂

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Rub-throated Hummingbird (Image by David Horowitz)
American Redstart
American Redstart First-year Female (Image by David Horowitz)
Mallard Squad (Image by BirdNation)
chipping sparrow 3
Chipping Sparrow (Image by David Horowitz)
yellow warbler female
Yellow Warbler Female (Image by BirdNation)

Bonus non-bird Picture:

Amico Island Beaver (Image by David Horowitz)

Texas Hummers

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I love bird cams. So I was thrilled when I found out that last week the Cornell Lab of Ornithology started broadcasting the West Texas Hummingbirds cam again!

The West Texas Hummers cam is based out of Fort Davis, Texas. It is run by the West Texas Avian Research and sponsored by Perky-Pet. The cam site hosts 24 hummingbird feeders that are elevated at over 6,200 feet. West Texas Avian Research has been using this site for about 10 years to band and study hummingbirds that are migrating through the Davis Mountains. About a dozen of hummingbird species pass through the site during peak migration.

Some of the commonly featured birds on this cam are the Ruby-throated, Rufous, Black-chinned, Magnificent,  Calliope, Lucifer, Broad-tailed, and White-eared Hummingbirds. Rare visitors include Anna’s, Allen’s, Green Violetear, and Blue-throated Hummingbirds. You can hear other regional bird species in the background (and sometimes there are surprise visitors). Most of the time the cam is fixed on one feeder, but sometimes they change the angle so you can see more. If you want to watch the cam (which I highly recommend, of course) you can find it at the Cornell Lab’s Bird Cams page or just click here.

west texas hummers 7-11
An almost full feeder (Image via West Texas Hummers Twitter)

Here are 10 interesting facts about hummingbirds.

  • The heart rate of an average hummingbird is over 1,200 beats per minute!
  • Their feet are so tiny that they can’t walk on the ground, they can only perch.
  • Hummingbirds can beat their wings 60 to 200 times per second.
  • Hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere from southeastern Alaska to southeastern Chile. They are mainly found in the tropics. 16 species of hummingbirds breed in the United States, but other species considered vagrant will visit as well.
  • There are over 320 species of Hummingbirds.
  • Hummingbirds go into a state of torpor at night, where they lower their metabolism to 1/15 of normal. Their body temperature drops and their heart rate lowers to just a few beats per minute.
  • The smallest Hummingbird in the world is the Bee Hummingbird, which weighs only 2.2 grams.
  • Hummingbirds can fly between 25-35 miles per hour and up to 60 miles per hour in a fast dive.
  • They can fly in any direction, and are the only bird that can fly backwards.
  • Hummingbirds need to consume 50% of their body weight in nectar per day.

Do you see Hummingbirds in your area? What’s your favorite Hummingbird species? Tell me in the comments.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird: Migration Monday

Hello! Today is the finally Migration Monday of the spring season. Can you believe that summer begins in one week? Next week I will start a new weekly feature about Summer Shorebirds (not sure which day of the week yet). The migrant I picked for today is a great lead-in to summer: the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I plan to write more about hummingbirds in the upcoming months, but I specifically chose Ruby-throated today because it is the only hummingbird I get in my area.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)


Ruby-throated Hummingibrds are aptly named; males have a brilliant patch of ruby feathers on their throats that glisten in the sun. These tiny hummingbirds, who are about 3.75 inches tall, rapidly buzz from one nectar source to another. Rubies have emerald green bodies and slightly down-turned bills. While sitting, their wings do not reach all the way to their tail. The red throat of the males may seem dark when they are not in good lighting. Rubies are precision flyers that can stop instantly and hover while adjusting their bodies with amazing control. They are common summer visitors to flower gardens and nectar feeders.

A  beautiful male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Image by Paula Cannon/VIREO via


Medium to long-distance migrants. Winter: Central America and the southern part of Florida. Migration: Mexico, Texas, and the Great Plains region of North America. Breeding: Eastern North America and parts of Canada. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only Eastern hummingbird. Some migrate across the Gulf of Mexico to their wintering grounds in a single flight. Many will migrate along the coast of Texas. In the spring, males migrate north earlier than the females.


Deciduous wooded areas or the edge of woods, orchards, meadows. They prefer to be near flowers for their food source, so they are common in gardens and backyards. They spend time in open or dry tropical scrub while at their wintering grounds in Central America.


Nectar from orange and red tubular flowers such as honeysuckle, jewelweed, red morning glory, and trumpet creepers. They will also eat insects from spider webs or grab them from mid-air. Rubies will put their bills into flowers and extend their long tongues to eat nectar while hovering.

Male Ruby-throated using his tongue at a flower (Image via


To attract a female, males will make looping,  U-shaped dives from as high as 50 feet above a female while making a whirring sound. The female will construct a nest in either a shrub or tree on a horizontal branch 10-40 feet above the ground. Females will use grass, spiderwebs, and plant down to construct a nest that is the size of a large thimble. Rubies can have 1-3 broods with a clutch size of typically 2 eggs. Females incubate the eggs for 11-16 days and the young will fledge after 20-22 days. The nest stretches as the young grow.

A female feeds her young (Image by Scott Bechtel, National Georgraphic You Shot)


In flight, the male’s wings create a faint high buzz. At daybreak males will make a series or monotonous chips. During the courtship dive displays, males will make a high rattling t-t-t-t.

Fun Facts:

  • Ruby-throated males will aggressively defend flowers, and may get in fights and chases over them.
  • Although they are the only hummingbird in the East, Rubies occupy the largest breeding ground of all North American hummingbirds.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can beat their wings about 53 times per second.
  • They have extremely good color vision and can see on the ultraviolet spectrum.

I have a favorite Ruby-throated moment: last summer I went river tubing at a campground. While waiting for the shuttle I discovered 6 hummingbird feeders behind the office building. There were at least 40 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds buzzing all over! I was bummed though because my phone was in the car so I couldn’t take a picture (wasn’t bringing my phone on the river!). I will never forget that moment though.  It was an amazing sight! Do you get Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in your area? Do they visit your feeder or garden? Tell me about it in the comments!