This Morning Outside
by Diane Porter
August 12, 2010
A ruby-throated hummingbird drops by for a snack of sugar solution. Mmmm.
This is probably an immature male, hatched this summer. Adult females usually have whiter throats than we see here. But I could be wrong on this bird. It's difficult to tell an immature male from an adult female unless you have it in your hand and can examine the shapes of the wing feathers. Adult females and first-summer birds of both sexes have rounded tails with white corners.
Now an adult male rubythroat would be easy to recognize. He would have, well, a ruby throat. And his tail would be forked, with no white spots.
When hummingbirds first show up in spring, they are all adults, and so it's easy to tell males from females, by either their throats or their tails. But in late summer, life is more complicated, with young of both sexes looking a lot like adult females.