Zippy is a Real Boy! Ruby-throated Hummingbird Molt


With all the colts and pelicans and wood ducks lately, you haven’t forgotten about Zippy, have you? He’s my little Ruby-throated Hummingbird that showed up after Hurricane Ian last October. He wintered in the backyard and I got to watch his gorget molt.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Early February.

When Zippy first showed up, I wasn’t sure if he was male or female. It wasn’t until I saw his first little red spot on his emerging gorget that I was sure that he was a little boy.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – First Red Dots Appear! January 22

By late February, the base of his gorget was emerging. He had three little red dots.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – February 24

By early March, his dot count was growing. He had five little red dots that would flash at me when the light angle was right.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – March 4

The molt accelerated in the first few weeks of March. By the second week, Zippy’s red dots had connected into a nice little red necklace. He seemed proud to flash it at me!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – March 11

I tried to get regular pictures, but he got harder and harder to photograph. He visited my flower beds in the early mornings, then transitioned to the hummingbird feeder in the afternoon. His visits got shorter and the flower bushes were denser as the spring progressed.

A week later, we had a multi-layer red necklace! You can see his dark feathers coming in under his white feathers.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – March 18

Zippy’s last visit to my yard was on March 23. He almost looks like an adult male hummingbird here! His white throat feathers are almost all gone, and you can see the dark feathers and red gorget that are replacing them. He’s all ready to go off, find a breeding territory, and impress the ladies when he flashes them with that stunning red throat!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – March 23. My last shot of Zippy before he left the yard

I have a Blink camera set up on the hummingbird feeder, so I got to watch Zippy’s molt in video form too. Enjoy!

I will miss this little guy. He’s been a delight to watch in the backyard! I hope he comes back to visit. There’s still a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird here who needs a friend to help her build a nest!