BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Plot thickens: there are 3 hummers in the mating dance movie! And a bonus: Fred sticks out his tongue!

On closer study I think there's a lot more going on in this short (7 sec) video than I initially realised. In particular as well as the regular male mating dance passing above the feeder (only the last rightward swing of this dance is shown in this short excerpt from a longer movie, "Hummingbird Mating Dance may 4"), and the departure of the target of the dance, a perching female, there are 2 other events that at first I did not see either on the movie or in real life. First, a hummer (probably Fred, but possibly Pete) makes a further swing below the feeder. Second apparently (see my Youtube commentary) 2 hummers (probably Pete followed very closely by Fred) hurtle towards the feeder but then abruptly change course. These 2 "new" events are more difficult to spot, happen very quickly (much less than 1/4 second!) and really require one to advance the movie frame by frame, or by setting replay at 0.25 speed on Youtube. I've indicated the locations (or location centers) of these events by white boxes, which pop up briefly at the 5 different locations involved.

This is a copy of the previous 7 second (expanded to 30  sec by 4X slo-mo) excerpt "may 4 mating dance female watches male", on which I've superimposed a set of 5 annotation boxes. These white boxes show up at the following approximate times: 1 sec, 3 s, 10s, 16, 28 and show the approximate locations of the following events:
1s: the male (probably Fred) executes a last left-right swing above the female and the feeder, passing rapidly through this box in a right-upward motion
3 s: location of perched female; she shows up as an upward blip on a branch inside the small box (the box unfortunately moves slightly, but the female does not, until much later in the movie (at 28 s, or actually 7 s real-time).
10s Fred does a left-right upward swing just below the feeder, hurtling through this third box.
16 s Pete, rapidly and closely followed (I think) by Fred hurtle from the lower right edge toward the feeder but then abruptly change course near this 4th box, speeding toward the right.
28 s The female, Suzy, leaves her perch, moving down rightward probably to join Fred below the bluff edge.
The events are 10 and 16 seconds happen very quickly and are difficult to spot, but trust me they are there, and you can see them by patiently toggling frame by frame, or by viewing the movie directly on Youtube with a further 0.25 slowing factor.
I suspect that in general a lot more is happening before our very eyes than we suspect: hummers move and react extremely rapidly.

Well that's all rather complicated and professorial, so to end up with I end up with a recent vid of Fred perching and sticking his tongue out at us!

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