Chloe & Her Fearless Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

We were very happy to receive touching, funny, and terrific stories for our writing contest. As a quick reminder, the topic was - What is your most exciting real-life birding experience? It was difficult to select the best story from all the great submissions, but we are proud to announce that 6th Grader Chloe is our grand prize winner in the "older kids" category, with her story about one brave bird.  The winning story in the "younger kids" division, and some of our favorite runners-up will be posted soon!  Thank you to all who submitted.

Winner #1 BirdSleuth Writing Contest Entry!

Fearless the Ruby-throated Hummingbird
I’ll always remember the day I fed my first bird. Well, I didn’t exactly feed it from my hand, but still, I fed it. I had always looked at books with people holding seed in their hand while a chickadee or a nuthatch was eating the seed. I had seen and heard enough. I was tired of seeing pictures with a bird feeding from their hand, so I decided to try it myself.

It was September 26, 2011. In the past few days, when I had gone outside to fill up our seed feeders next to the hummingbird feeder, a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird would always dive down to the feeder to try and drink some sugar water, but would always fly away when she saw me. I saw how bold she was, and that afternoon, I decided to try my experiment.

It was around 3 pm. I changed my gray shirt and put on a red one. I walked outside next to the hummingbird feeder and stood there. I looked around for the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. After a minute or two, I saw her sitting in the dogwood tree nearby. I picked up the hummingbird feeder, put the hook around my finger and held it. I waited for about a minute. My finger started to hurt, but I wouldn’t put the feeder down. I couldn’t give up yet. After about five minutes, she flew down, but didn’t drink the sugar water. She flew to another dogwood. After a few more dives, I started to say to her, “please don’t be afraid of me,” and as if by magic, she flew down to the feeder and drank the sugar water! “Thank you,” I said, as if she could hear me. Maybe she could hear me. I kept calling her Fearless, and when I called, she would always fly down to the feeder.

I kept repeating this process, and by the time my dad came home from work, I had fed her eight times! I told my dad and he was very excited for me, and started calling me the “hummingbird whisperer.” After dinner, I went outside and fed her three more times. At night, when my mom was putting me in bed, I said to her, “Maybe Fearless will be here tomorrow so I can feed her.”

Sure enough, the next morning I went outside and called Fearless, and there she came. I fed her two more times to make it thirteen times I had fed this hummingbird. I wish I could have fed her more, but since Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are very territorial, I knew I would not be able to feed her much longer.

That afternoon, I went out to feed Fearless, but the hummingbird that was outside was not Fearless. Fearless had tried to drive off another hummingbird, but she had lost the battle. I was sad. I knew the other hummingbird would not drink from the feeder while I was holding it because she would not even try to drink while I was outside.

That was the end of my hummingbird feeding adventures. Next year on September 26 and 27, I will go outside and try to feed a hummingbird, and maybe it will be Fearless, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Grade 6
Murfreesboro, TN 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird by Skip Bradley, Flickr
Thanks Chloe for sharing your amazing story with us. Check out this link to All About Birds to learn more about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds; specifically, be sure to check out the videos:
As you watch the video, try and focus on the wings of the Hummingbirds as they fly. Hummingbird flight is different from most other birds: they have very strong breast muscles which allow them to flap their wings incredibly fast - often too fast to see. Plus, their wings attach to their bodies only at a single point near the shoulder joint - this allows the wings to rotate like a figure 8. These fast, versatile wings let hummingbirds fly forwards and backwards AND hover in mid-air!    

Now, imagine seeing it up close, and hearing those tiny wings buzzing like a bee! Awesome! We encourage everyone to keep an eye out for these acrobatics of the air; but keep in mind that hummingbirds migrate out of most locations in Canada and the northern United States.

Here are some activity ideas for you:

1. Use eBird ( to learn which hummingbird species live in your area and when they are found there.

2. Find out more about flight and how hummingbirds are unique.

3.  Build your own bird feeder or purchase a hummingbird feeder so you can feed birds!
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