How to tell the difference between females and young?

trey77July 4, 2006

Does anyone know how to tell the difference between adult females and the juviniles?

The other day a hummer came and was very relaxed on the feeder, but definately not one of the adult males. The male came, perched on top of the feeder for a moment then he started shrieking. The other bird then perched and the male did his courtship ritual. So obviously this was an adult female. This got me to think and wonder if this was the same female that I would watch in April that disappered. If so she must have already raised young and is ready to work on another nest. If thats the case I started to wonder where are the young. Today a hummer came that once again was not an adult male, but it was very nervous and skiddish at the feeder. Now I am wondering could this have been a juvinile?

Sorry for being such long winded. I just wanted to explain my question in depth.

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You asked a question that I have also been wanting to ask.
I think I saw a female about 2 weeks ago. The female
wanted to stay and perch for a drink, now I`m getting visitors
that come for quick drinks,also they are vocal they have to sing before they take a drink. So I`m confused if it`s a
female or a small male .I keep trying to get a close look.

I am still cofused about the type of hummer I think they are
anna . Every day if have time I try to do more research.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 2:10PM
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Here's a website with pictures that may help. Young male ruby-throats are white-throated, with white in their tails--pretty much like adult females. They can be distinguished from adult females by the spotting or streaking on the throat, which increases as the summer goes on. Adult females tend to have purer white throats, but just to confuse things, will sometimes also have darker markings--but this is less typical. So, if you've got a summer bird with white in the tail, and a white throat with noticeable streaking, and especially if it seems small in size, it's probably a young male. Sometimes the males will even get a few red feathers on the throat, but won't fully molt into their red throats until they reach their wintering grounds. When they return in spring, they'll look like adult males.

From what I can see, young females are very difficult to tell from adult females. Whereas the green feathers on an adult female tend to be pure green all the way to the tip, young birds will often show buffy edges, especially on the top of the head and face.

There are other differences, too, but they'd be hard to make out on a flying bird. Take a look at this website, and see if you can make sense of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Distinguishing female and young ruby-throats--both male and female

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 10:21PM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

Thanks for that great website. Great information and photos.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 8:26AM
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Kristin, Great link very informative. It is going to be hard to identify while flying. Hopefully this new vistor will get more comfortable and hang out a while.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 6:31PM
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Thank you for the great info!


    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 7:06PM
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I agree. Even with the info, it's hard to make out the subtle differences. I'm still trying to figure out how many individual birds are visiting by videotaping them and looking at unique markings. Man, it's tough, but I'm pretty sure I have at least two different adult males. I think one of my females might be an immature--or is that pollen on her head?

Too bad we can't all get dave_in_va to come to our homes and take a bunch of his ultra clear photos. If we could study the photos carefully, perhaps we could tell if we have adults or immatures! How about it, Dave?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 6:43PM
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I just wanted to say thank you again for the info.That is a wonderful idea videotaping the hummers.I`m still having a hard time indentifying who is who.I wish I could look at my hummer feeder all day.I wish some of you people were not so far away. Then I could just say come over here Kristin because I need to know If this is a male or female. The face to face advice would be nice.Thank you again.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 12:35PM
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wonko_the_sane(RTP, NC)

Something that might help ID the age of your hummers is the length of their beak.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I notice that the young hummers have slightly shorter beaks than the parents when they first visit my feeder. The baby beaks haven't finished growing.

By the way, here is a juvenile male developing his ruby feathers. (I know, this angle doesn't demonstrate the short beak.)

Here is a different boy a little bit older. Notice that he has a deformed beak. It made him easy to ID.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:49PM
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grandmapoo(z8 S.Texas)

I've also noticed that the youngters seem more curious, looking at EVERYTHING close up; once, even the cat!!!
((((Scared the bejeeebees out of me!)))) :)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 11:24AM
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Wow nice pics! I am 99% sure it's a juvenile. I can't get close enough to check the throat yet but everything else leads to the yound side. It will check out its own reflection in the windows, pretty vane little bird I'll say.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 4:51PM
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grandmapoo(z8 S.Texas)

Try hanging a feeder right outside a window, so you can get a :- birdseye :- view! :)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 1:07PM
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