Bird of the Week

Posted Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the rufous hummingbird.

Spring is filled with the seemingly docile comings and goings of black-chinned and broad-tailed hummers to our backyard feeders and garden flowers; exciting no doubt, but fairly serene. And, then, uh huh, here comes the rufous, all 2.5 to 3 inches of ’em (smaller on average than the other two species), seeking not only the tubular wildflowers and small insects in our yards, but also bullying and dominating our feeders for the copious and precious nectar that we so willingly provide.

The males sport a noticeably almost copper tone on their backs and bellies, white tie and the scale-like neck feathers (or gorgets) of brilliant red and orange. Immature birds and mature females wear a typically more subdued olive green and rufous casting on their back and flank feathers and occasionally don a small orange patch on their throat.

These guys run an amazing migratory loop. They work up from Mexico and points south in the late winter and spring, then through the Pacific coastal lowlands to as far north as Alaska for breeding season. They then work inland to the Rocky Mountains to catch the wildflower nectar wave in late June, July and August, only to head southeast for fall.

This year, they were first spotted here in the third week of June. They are hugely effective pollinators, as they widely graze through different regions and offset flowering seasons.

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