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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hummer Battles

Dog Eat Doug, 8/22/07:
That's how I feel, too, trying to keep up with the hummingbirds ripping around my backyard this time of year. The late summer brings a good pulse of hummers through Colorado's Front Range, mainly Broad-tailed, Rufous, and Calliope Hummingbirds. Black-chinned Hummers seem to be expanding their ranges, too, with more frequent reports from around here. When we moved to our house in SW Longmont, I was lucky that the previous owners had planted a few agastache plants that attracted migrant hummers within a month or so of our mid-summer move-in. Since then, I've expanded the perennial gardens to include a healthy representation of these hummer magnets, along with some other plants (several varieties of salvia and a honeysuckle, for example) to bring in the birds. I've been lucky enough to attract all of the above 4 species to my yard, although I haven't had a Black-chinned this year. Not surprisingly, the birds seem to spend more time and energy chasing each other around than they do feeding. Lately, an immature female Rufous Hummingbird has set herself up as queen of the backyard. I got the bright idea to rig up a perch outside my kitchen window, and tonight she was using it as a command post to launch attacks on any inferior birds who dared to try to sip nectar from "her" garden. Here's Her Highness in the evening light, complete with a delicate yellow pollen tiara:
Besides the expected 4 species, you never know just what else might turn up during hummingbird migration. Last Sunday I got a call from John Vanderpoel, a birding buddy who lives nearby in Niwot. He had a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird coming to his feeders, so I grabbed my camera and tooled on over ASAP- this is a really good "get" for Colorado and would be a new state bird for me. When I settled in around 9:30, the morning feeding frenzy had subsided, but after a half-hour or so and many false alarms the star bird appeared, chasing a Calliope across his yard (Calliopes often find themselves on the low end of the pecking order, I fear.) Even better, the bird stuck around for several days, delighting a steady stream of birders. The rare Colorado reports of this species (only 3 accepted records through 1999, with a smattering since then) are usually unchaseable, so having one loiter at feeders within easy reach of the Denver Metroplex made a lot of birders really happy. It turned out to be a first for heavily birded Boulder County, too. John was really generous about letting folks walk around his house to sit and watch the feeders in his backyard- thanks, John! Check out his Advanced Birding Video Series (Hummingbirds, Large Gulls, and Small Gulls), hosted by Jon Dunn- these are great references to have for these tough groups. Anyway, here's the little lost feller:

1 comment:

dah_sab said...

I suppose I've misidentified what I suppose is a broad-tailed hummingbird rather than ruby-throated which I saw in Dillon, CO a few weeks ago --

What with the same species of hummingbird looking very different in photographs depending on how they are illuminated I have had the devil's own time identifying birds in my own backyard (Austin, TX) much less birds seen so far from my home.