Hand Feeding Hummingbirds in Alaska

We get a lot of hummingbirds in June at Saltery Lodge

If you have ever had a hummingbird feeder, you know how much fun they are to watch. This evening, it was particularly interesting. There was an adult male hummingbird that claimed the feeder for himself. This was not unusual by itself, as there is definitely a pecking order at the feeder. But what made this unique was the fact that he claimed it for a couple hours!

We had two feeders within about six feet of each other and he perched on one of them and a chased off every single humming bird that came within 10 feet of those feeders. He was extremely aggressive! So after a couple hours of this, there was quite a backlog of hummingbirds trying to get some sweet nectar. I decided to get the Canon 5d Mk ii out (which I love) and shoot some video of this hilarious bully at the feeder.

As I was filming him chasing off the other birds, some hummingbirds started getting really close to me. They would try to “feed” from the red stripe in my camera strap and the little red record light on the camera LCD! They would hover inches in front of my face, looking me in the eye.

So I decided to see if I could coax one of these little guys into feeding from my hand. I went inside and got my little point and shoot digital camera and a cup of nectar. I poured some into my hand and then waited, with the camera in the ready position. I held very still, trying not to scare them away. I even held still while one of them stuck his beak in my ear! That takes nerves.

After about 10 minutes, I had success. This little guy trusted me enough to land in hand and feed from the nectar. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! They are so light, you can barely tell that he was there, other than the tiny poke of his little claws.

Later in the summer, we tried again when they were really thick, and were successful again. In fact, my two daughters succeeded in getting them to land on their fingers. That was really special for them. Alaska has a lot of these unexpected intangibles that make it an amazing place to live and vacation.