Readers’ wildlife photos

June 22, 2014 • 5:43 am

Reader Diana MacPherson sent two pictures, a juvenile common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) and a perching ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris; click both to enlarge):

This is a cute baby grackle (the babies are all out in full force). This guy has a seed his dad gave him after he squawked for food. I love the pretty shade of green of his eyes & I never noticed the green eye colour before.


 This male ruby-throated hummingbird perched constantly on the thing that holds the hummingbird feeder. I think he’s a new guy because he took a bit to get comfortable with my camera. Look at his cute, tiny claws! I took a picture of the same male perched in a nearby tree in silhouette as well.


Here are its cute tiny feet, enlarged. This seems patently maladaptive: a hummingbird with bigger feet could find more perches!



14 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I think this is why you see hummingbirds perching on the tips of things with those little claws – they are the perfect size for the end of a twig! I also think it is adorable how they hold them up when they feed on nectar.

  2. Yes. Bigger feet would weigh more. Probably the reason birds don’t have teeth.
    One of the the most important skills in aircraft engineering is to be able to shave the weight of everything to its least mass.

    1. And a small bird with superior maneuverability
      would simply find the smaller perches. Which may be more numerous in some habitats, say bushes.

      Also, maybe it is less ‘perch competition’ with larger bird species?

      1. Even on large trees, the tiniest twigs are the most numerous, since the trees branch fractally.

  3. Lovely photos. We have a hummingbird feeder right outside our dining area window and they always make me a little happier.

  4. Grackles keep their nests clean by scooping up the droppings and delivering them to the nearest body of water (aka my birdbath). It’s the bird version of UPS…United Poop Service.

  5. Hummers make one wonder what sorts of physics of scale must be going on. They share the same basic body plan as elephants, sharks, and especially condors. Never mind the claws…how can the heart and circulatory systems scale like that?

    Teh minds be boggled….


    1. I would guess that the smallest capillary in the hummers circulatory system is about the same as yours.
      The heart can be on the same plan as other birds, it would just have fewer cells.

  6. Beautiful, Diana!

    Regarding hummer feet–I’ve also wondered if their small size helps them retain heat. After all, we’re talking about a bird that goes into torpor when food is scarce; with their rapid metabolism they can’t afford to lose any energy.

  7. I saw my first hummingbirds ever on a recent trip to the USA. We stayed at Three Rivers CAL while we went to see Sequoia National Park. We had breakfast every morning at Anne’s Emporium and there were hummingbird feeders on the verandah out the back, where dozens of them came to eat. It was amazing. The hummingbirds were Anna’s Hummingbirds I think, they were so tiny I could hardly believe it, and according to the net Anna’s are only medium sized hummingbirds, even smaller ones exist. They were amazing!

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