The accompanying photographs were taken by Paul Hamaker on Sept. 1, 2014, in Pinson, Alabama. The group of hummingbirds (ruby-throated hummingbirds) is enjoying a drink from a feeder. Granted the birds do not know it is Labor Day. Hamaker just got lucky and saw the birds at the feeder in his back yard.
Hummingbirds are notoriously competitive and protective of their food sources. Usually a bird will stake out a feeder and drive all other birds away. The birds in these photographs are most likely a family group. Five birds eating from the same feeder at the same time is a rare sight. This may be a female and her almost-adult brood preparing for their winter trip to Mexico or Central America. Male hummingbirds do not participate in the raising of the young.
A tornado destroyed a large part of the community where these photos were taken on Jan. 23, 2012. The storm destroyed many hummingbird nesting places. The population of hummingbirds visiting this feeder in 2012 and 2013 was smaller than previously seen. The birds have returned in abundance in 2014.
Hummingbirds are no longer considered to be an endangered species in Alabama. Mosquito spraying killed hummingbirds in the past but the populations have grown since the practice has been abandoned. Killing hummingbirds is frowned upon in Alabama.
It is nice to see some of nature’s fastest and smallest in one’s own back yard. Hummingbird feeders may make the birds into sugar addicts but the birds are born addicted. This group feeding is a rare sight and a nice bit of added fun to Labor Day.