I'm an avid birder and nature photographer wishing to share some of my sightings & images taken while out in the "wilds" of Cape Ann and surrounding New England countryside. More images can be found on my web site at New England Birds Plus Enjoy, Phil Brown

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hummingbirds - Not Always A Pretty Sight

On 3 or 4 occasions over the past 17 years of feeding Hummingbirds here in Essex I've had a male exhibit behavior that makes it appear to be having trouble swallowing. I had another one of these last week and for the second time in all these years I had a Hummingbird expire in the yard. Very, very sad to see.

I came home to a Hummingbird hanging from the feeder with another male displaying to it from a few inches away, trying to chase it from "His" feeder. This is what it looked like when I arrived.

And within a few moments the Hummingbird was on the ground. 

Back in July of 2010 I had another male showing the same symptoms, having a hard time swallowing, sitting on the feeder for extended periods of time with it's bill straight up in the air and eyes closed as if resting until being chased off by another male. This shows the tongue out as it tries swallowing hard.

And a brief video of the 2010 male as it tried to feed at the window feeder.

Both of these Hummingbirds were collected and given to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge to add to their collection. I've asked several sources for a diagnosis of the problem and have heard from others that have seen the same behavior at their feeders but have yet to hear a viable reason. I do know that male Hummingbirds live an "average life" of 1 1/2 years with females living longer, so maybe with all of the time I've spent watching I've just witnessed the end for a few of these flying wonders. Sad indeed.