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Photo Narrative: "Baby Girl" and "Baby Boy"
Create Your Own Narative

One of the pleasures of following the hummingbird migration is finding special people willing to share their stories and experiences. This is a story about a woman who learned a lot from careful observation. After reading it create your own narrative of local birds you've watched at your own backyard feeder.

Meet A Florida Bird Bander
Bird-bander Meret Wilson has shared her winters in Ormond Beach, Florida, the past 3 years with two ruby-throated hummingbirds, “Baby Girl” and “Baby Boy.”  During the time that these birds have overwintered in her yard, she has never banded them. "I have thought about having my 2 overwintering hummingbirds banded but I feel our relationship is so special I would not want to make them afraid or angry where they might not return again. I feel they have behaviors that help me identify them without bands," she writes.

Since her birds have come to stay for the past 3 winters, she's observed special characteristics about each bird’s behavior.

Meret and fellow bird lovers
banding team

Baby Girl
“The female, Baby Girl, is chatty, and comes down from her perch to look at me. This bird appears to know my voice.”  Meret says she can call for Baby Girl when she is out of the yard and the bird will fly back looking for her.

“Most days, if I am home and sitting outdoors for any period of time, Baby Girl will perch on one of 3 branches just above me to preen, rest, and dart over to her feeder to fill up.  When she is at the feeder she comes up from it and looks directly at me, rising up and then going back in for a sip and back up again.  She may repeat this behavior 4-8 times before shooting back up to her perch.”

"Baby Girl"
Baby Girl again
BAby Girl
Baby Boy
Her second hummingbird, “Baby Boy” is very different.  “He also has a couple favorite perches quite close to his chosen feeder in the back yard.  He quietly waits until he is ready to sip nectar. Unlike Baby Girl, he is less tolerant of my sudden movements.  If I come out the back door he will flit up to a higher branch.  When he knows I am settled for a while he then returns to the branch close to the feeder and is quite content to let me sit near by and he do the same,” writes Meret.
"Baby Boy"
BAby Boy

First Arrivals in the Spring
In coastal areas where hummingbirds first hit land they are often seen in groups. Once inland the birds have had time to feed and disperse out to travel individually.

When a single new male hummingbird arrived in her yard on March 2, she knew it was her first migrant of the season. Throughout the winter, each overwintering bird has their chosen feeder in her yard. This new bird flew into the yard “talking,” and he went to one of Baby Girl’s feeders. He has since taken over the front feeder from Baby Boy. This new male also looked different than her overwintering male. He had a slightly different feather pattern with no white stripe on his left side, a distinguishing characteristic of Baby Boy’s.

Location of Ormond Beach
Ormon Beach Map

Are They Same Birds Year After Year?
"In our part of Florida hummers pass through both fall and spring. Occasionally, a bird chooses to stay overwinter, but most stay only 24-48 hours and are gone. "Soon Baby Girl and Baby Boy will know it is time for them to go north again. I only hope that my hummers will have safe journeys and return again to spend next winter in my yard," she wrote.

"Am I prepared for the day when it is time for them to go north again?  No. I also know one day these two will not return.  Am I prepared for that?  Never," shares Meret.

 
Take Time for Your Own Observations
Try observing a bird's behavior for a long period of time. For colder climate observations, place a bird feeder near a window and spend some time watching. Meret recommends,"Spending time among the birds helps them sense you are not going to harm them. Slowly they become more tolerant.  This is not true of all birds, but it worth a try and you can learn some amazing things."
Your Blank Narrative
Your own narrative

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