After a night of storms and a morning of more rain, I went out this afternoon to survey the damage and this tiny, adorable hummer was chirping at me from the woods. Normally, hummers perch in the trees in the woods and watch their feeders from there but fly off if I approach, however this little guy seemed to enjoy my company and was very patient as I tried to get his picture, but attempting to find him in a sea of green leaves with a point and shoot camera was almost impossible, and he was too tiny to see on video. But I just kept calling him a pretty bird and he was eating it up. He seems to me to be pretty young and I was wondering if Nancy or any of you vets might have an idea of age. I know there's not much to go by but I was just curious.
Assuming those dark feathers in the throat are colored feathers, indicative of a gorget-to-come, this would be a young male bird hatched sometime this year. It's impossible to say any more specifically than that for sure, but given that it's October and most of the birds passing through your area now were probably hatched quite some distance away, it's likely he was hatched no earlier than early May, possibly as late as early July.
I think he may have visited me again today and I got some closer--and drier--pictures. His feathers may have been all puffed out yesterday because of the rain and humidity. Interestingly, just before this one landed, a juvenile male with a few red feathers in his gorget buzzed me twice like he was trying to back me away from the feeder. I was expecting him to come in for a sip, but it was this one instead, who looks more like the bird from yesterday. See what you think:
Although I'm guessing this bird in the second batch of pictures is a female (and the previous one could have been, if the dark throat spots weren't gorget feathers), it's hard to put an age on her for certain. Hatch-year Ruby-throats usually have slightly buffy tips to the green feathers of the body, but those wear off fairly quickly; this bird might have them, but without a clearer look at the back I couldn't begin to guess. And once those are gone - which happen quickly - it's impossible to tell with the naked eye.
The only sure way to tell a hatch-year female Ruby-throat from an adult is to look at the surface of the bill with a strong magnifier (the standard is a 10x loupe). When they leave the nest, young birds have a series of tiny corrugations, or wrinkles, in the skin covering the length of the bill, which gradually smooth out over the course of the bird's first year. By spring, or even late winter, those corrugations will be gone.
I am glad Kevin was able to respond as I have been drowning in other things to do lately. To me, these appear to be 2 different birds. The first one is an immature male as the amount of white in the tail feathers is very limited.
The second bird is a female and it is more difficult to tell the age. This bird exhibits some broken feathers across the breast [nest mark] that occurs from friction with the rim of the nest. Adult females and young of both sexes develop this feature, which confuses a lot of folks. Generally, the adult female will molt her breast feathers before migrating while the youngsters keep the mark until they molt later in the winter, so it may be a young female. However, I can't be sure.
That said, all I can determine agewise is adult or immature. It is not possible to accurately assess exact age.
I am somewhat reluctant to offer an opinion when Kevin and Nancy have each weighed in, but the apparent length of the bills of these two birds seems much different to me. The bird in the first set of pics seems to have a much shorter bill than the bird in the second set. But maybe that is just a matter of perspective....?