Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not a Bloody Hummingbird

UPDATED 8/30 First I thought it was a young male, just getting his feathers. Then, looking more closely, I thought it was a female who had been in a fight, based on a long streak of red on the belly. Bisbee Border Bird Bloggers (say that five times fast!) however, believes it is a molting male, and that the red streak is the skin showing beneath a featherless area on the belly.
(You can't see it too well in this photo.)

After reading Bisbee's comments, I'm inclined to go back to my initial thought that it is actually a young male, since I have 2 other young males who are just getting their red feathers this week. Not nearly as visceral and dramatic, but cool, nonetheless! Thanks for the info, Tom & Sheri!



9 comments:

Robin's Nesting Place said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David in Greensboro, NC said...

Only if the birds aren't hurt. I was relieved to see all three of my hummingbirds out this morning (fighting, of course). I guess it's just in their nature.

Bisbee Border Birder Bloggers said...

Sorry to burst your blood-spattered balloon, but your first interpretation was correct. It's not blood - it's the red iridescent feathers growing in on a young male. I've watched hundreds of thousands of hummingbirds feeding and fighting and never, ever seen a bloody one. David's right - it's just their nature to fight - but they don't normally do serious injury to one another.

David in Greensboro, NC said...

What made me think it was a female was the white-tipped tail feathers, but I have since seen a photo of a young male with white feather tips, so it looks like you're right. Also, it looks like some of the red streaks are visible on the belly, further down than where the red feathers normally are. I'll watch them some more and see if the "blood" is gone. Thanks for the tip!

Bisbee Border Birder Bloggers said...

Keep in mind that hummingbirds are like most birds in having a naturally featherless area down the middle of their undersides. This area is normally completely covered by the feathers that grow on either side, but when some of these feathers are missing, as is often the case this time of year, part of the breast may become visible. Their skin is so thin that the red muscles show through - that's what the dark streak in the photo looks like to me.

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Bisbee, I'll buy that. The red streak on the belly is what made me think blood, but if it's the redness under the skin, that makes sense. I have another young male who only has the one red spot on the chin, and this one seemed to have a lot more red. Thanks for the expertise!

Mary said...

David, check out my blog - a young male looks stabbed in the neck but it's his red gorget feather are coming alive.

Yes, they do fight often.

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Mary, when did you first see the new feathers on your males? All of mine got their red feathers this week.

Mike Biddle said...

I read another blog that refutes your claims- https://fieldguidetohummingbirds.wordpress.com/2007/08/29/7/

I've put feeders out for 30 years since I was a teenager, I've never seen them bloody or kill each other. They buzz around and that's it.