It was the first time I'd ever seen a hummingbird face-to-face. I went to Missouri for the weekend, a little over a thousand miles away from my home state. I think I've glimpsed one before in Florida, but it moved past as a blur so quick that I wasn't sure if it wasn't really something else. An object like bitter_engineer described was hanging down from a hook off the wooden canopy. When I first saw one drop down, I thought it was a gigantic dragonfly until I added it all together.
I sat in one of the rocking chairs on the porch in a wooden cabin on top of the hill, overlooking the green majesty of the woods, watching my fiance's rat terrior dog take off chasing after a butterfly. It couldn't get any more stereotypical of deep-Southern life if you tried. Since his parents built the house themselves, they may have even constructed it with that idyllic image in mind.
There was a whole cluster of them hovering about, hanging in the air like jewels on a thread. I asked what species they were (ruby-throated hummingbird) and remarked that they looked more blue and white than green. When I stood up for a closer look, they shied away so I had to sit in one of the rocking chairs patiently and wait.
As they slowly dipped down to perch on the feeder briefly and sip the ambrosia, I noticed that they were very combative, fussing and chirping at each other with high-pitched peeps more like a muppet's voice than any proper birdsong.
They're quite comical to watch. Since their tiny feet are folded up almost completely underneath their bodies and they're so brightly-colored, it makes them look unreal, like little toys. They're incredible little animals, powered by sugar and hyperactivity.
my fiance related a short story about the only time he caught one, when it was buzzing past his ear and he reflexively grabbed at it. He opened his hand. The hummingbird was stunned for a moment, shook its head, and then promptly flew off. They're so quick and fluid that it's hard to imagine capturing one out of the air if it's isn't otherwise trapped or injured.
When I was in the bathroom later that night and flipped through Uncle John's ULTIMATE Bathroom Reader on the commode behind me, one of the first pages I turned to had this little piece of trivia: "A hummingbird's wings flap over 200 times a minute when mating." Of course, I had no way of verifying that fact but it was a nice little coincidence that made me smile.