Ha! I have confirmation at last–Single Female Hummingbird has raised a pair of babies in the yard.
I had a suspicion when two hummingbirds showed up out of nowhere, and Single Female Hummingbird didn’t chase them away immediately. She is merciless to intruders into HER yard. These two she tolerates to be on the other side of the bee balm, although if one makes for a flower that she’s working on, she gets pretty annoyed.
But it was only a suspicion, because a young adult hummingbird looks exactly like an adult female hummingbird*, so for all I knew, I was just hosting some peculiar avian sorority. But today I actually got a close look at one of the newcomers, and he had fluff. The last bits of baby down were still clinging to his little feet, and particularly ridiculously, to the top of his head.
So Single Female Hummingbird successfully raised a pair of babies! (Male hummingbirds are deadbeat dads.)
I am terribly gratified. This goes along with the single pipevine swallowtail caterpillar on the hairy Dutchman’s pipe as Awesome Stuff In The Garden This Summer. And now I can add ruby-throated hummingbirds to the list of birds that have raised babies in the yard, which includes blue-gray gnatcatchers, white-breasted nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, red-bellied woodpeckers, and possibly most gratifying, the pileated woodpecker. (Only one baby there, but it was a BIG baby.)
*The ruby gorget that marks males doesn’t show up until next year.