Shortly before it began raining this afternoon, my husband called to me to the garden to have a look see. Three male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were zinging about, drinking nectar from the flowers and fearlessly whizzing by each other in territorial displays. The tiny boys were mostly interested in our beautiful old Japanese flowering quince ‘Toyo-nishiki’ (Chaenomoles speciosa). They were also investigating the flowering pear tree and almost-ready to bloom crabapples, but not nearly as much so as the quince.
I hope to see them again on a brighter day, the male’s beautiful red gorget (throat patch) flashes much more brilliantly in the sunshine.
Providing a continuously blooming array of nectar rich flowers, from spring through late summer, will encourage RTHummingbirds to nest nearby and you may even see the fledglings later in the season. You will probably never see the nest as it is only as big as one half a walnut shell, and the eggs only pearl-sized 🙂
Many thanks to Caroline Haines, the director of Pathways for Children, for forwarding the photos of the rare albino Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). The photos were shot by Kevin Shank and four of his sons over a several day period in late August. Caroline has a love for butterflies and birds, and nature in general, and brings her passion to the programing provided for the children at Pathways.
The above photos were taken in Virginia at the beginning of the hummingbird’s annual southward migration; it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that we may see an albino hummingbird visiting our Cape Ann feeders and flowers as we are in the same migratory corridor.
A true albino hummingbird, as is the above bird, has snowy white plumage and it’s eyes, legs, and bill are pink. True albinos are extraordinarily rare. Leucistic hummingbirds are still rare but are seen more often than true albions. Like the common Ruby-throated Hummingbird, leucistic forms have black, feet, bills, and eyes, but their feathers are some version of white, gray, buffy, and tan; not the typical shades of green.
Leucistic form and common Ruby-throated Hummingbirds