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I am new to hummer watching. I have what I think is an immature male ruby throated hummingbird visiting my feeder. I was wondering how long it would take for him to get his full adult plumage and lose the white at the tip of the tail? He has a red spot in the middle of his throat, which is why I think it is a male. Being so new to hummer watching, I am finding it very hard to distinguish between the different species.

Could you recommend a good book on hummingbirds? I live in Shalimar, FL which is about 5 miles north of Destin. I understand that the ruby throats have wintered in this area. Should I leave my feeder up all year? Thank you in advance for any help and advise you can give me.

--Debbie Nelms

A Hi Debbie

You have picked a fascinating hobby. Watching hummingbirds is one of life's greatest pleasures. It sounds like you identified your hummer. And immatures can be difficult!

The hummingbird you described certainly sounds like an immature male Ruby-Throat. Your hummer should have his full adult plumage(complete gorget and no white in the tail) by next spring. The females can have some flecks on the throat, but a red spot sounds like a male hummer.  

If I were you--living just a few miles from the Gulf Coast-- I would leave my feeders out all year. In the past few years more and more winter hummers have been showing up. You will NOT prevent a hummer from migrating by leaving a feeder out. If a hummer is around in the winter, it is either lost, sick or injured. Your feeder may save its life.

Good luck!

-- Terrie


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