Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hummingbirds Arrive in Pend Oreille County

 April 18th was the date I spotted the first hummingbird back here on the farm. When I dutifully hung a hummingbird feeder out on April 13th, nothing was blooming yet so it seemed unlikely that there would be any visitors stopping by anytime soon.  But a mere 5 days later, there he was in all of his glory, a beautiful male rufous!  (All photos taken by me - Vicki Green)

Male Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)  
Two days later, on April 20th a male Calliope Hummingbird arrived.  The Calliope is the smallest hummingbird seen in the United States and Canada.

Male Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope)

And then the appearance of a second male Rufous confirmed when two sipped from the feeder together in a rare moment of tolerance. Usually they are very protective of a feeder and guard it by chasing each other away.

Two male Rufous hummingbirds at a hummingbird feeder

A female calliope was next to appear.

Female Calliope Hummingbird

On May 1st the first male Black-chinned hummingbird arrived.
Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

With all three species of hummingbirds that are usually seen in Pend Oreille County back in the area, the madness begins!  As they zoom around chasing each other, sitting in proximity to the feeder is like being in the midst of a squadron of tiny fighter pilots.  I hear the buzzing sound and feel the wind on my cheek from tiny wings as they fly by within an inch of my head, I am reminded of the movie, Top Gun!  In an attempt to minimize the battles, a second hummingbird feeder was added in a location where the two feeders could not both be easily seen by the tiny combatants.  There are occasional moments of peaceful co-existence captured by my camera.

Black-chinned male hummingbird (left) and a male Calliope Hummingbird (right)
From the photo above the size difference between the Black-chinned and the Calliope can be easily seen.  In the photo below, two male black-chins share a feeder for a few seconds.

Two male Black-chinned Hummingbirds
A truce between a male black-chin hummingbird and a male rufous hummingbird is captured in the photo below.

Male Black-chinned hummingbird (left) and male Rufous hummingbird (right)
Soon the battle resumes, including a stare down from a Black-Chin with the photographer (me).

Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Important information about hummingbird feeders and nectar

  Hummingbird nectar should always be made with white sugar - never honey or other sweeteners.  The recommended recipe is one part sugar to 4 parts water.  Boil until the sugar is dissolved and then cool before filling feeders.  I don't use red food coloring - it isn't needed so why spend the extra money on food coloring or take the chance that the chemicals in the red dye might be harmful?  

Clean hummingbird feeders regularly - at least once a week or more frequently in hot weather.  Nectar can ferment and grow mold which can be deadly to hummingbirds.  I use glass feeders that can be cleaned in the dishwasher or boiled/steamed to sterilize.  I usually rinse them with a mild bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) at the end of the summer and then rinse thoroughly before putting them into storage for the winter.

Hummingbird in nasturtium

To provide a natural diet, I also recommend planting numerous species of the hummingbirds favorite flowers - including native plants.  Some I have planted include columbine, honeysuckle, coral bells, snowberry, serviceberry, phlox, currant, nasturtium, foxglove, penstemon, zinnia and milkweed.


  1. I love your hummingbird in nasturtium photo - one of my favorite flowers.

    1. Thank you! I love nasturtiums too. I have enjoyed them since I was a young child and still grow them every year.

  2. What a delightful group of photos! I'm going to have to break down and get a feeder one of these days. I do try to have plants the hummingbirds like, but I'm never outside to see them when they are there.

    1. The feeder featured in these photos is attached to our deck railing. It is really fun to have our dinner on the deck and watch the show!