Last Wednesday, as I was putting the finishing touches on my blog, I heard Linda call out something from the living room. I ran in there and she said “Hummer!” Sure enough, there was a tiny little male Rufous Hummingbird at my feeder. I grabbed my camera and got about 3 seconds of video through the blind slats before he flew away. That’s the first hummer I’ve seen in about 3 weeks, and the first Rufous since last summer. (video below)
I immediately set up my camera and put some fresh nectar in the feeder. Over the course of the next few days we had many visits to our feeder from hummingbirds. This seemed to be a wave of Rufous Hummingbirds, which were much smaller than the Anna’s we had been seeing. Some of them were so tiny that it was hard to even see them when they got on the opposite side of the feeder.
On Friday I got some video of another hummer that I could tell from the coloring was not a Rufous. I thought it was an Anna’s Hummingbird since those are the only two I have seen in Yakima. The video below has been slowed down so you can get a good look at him. You will notice that this one has a streaked, somewhat purple neck gorget. I did not realize until today when I looked at the video on the computer that this was not an Anna’s hummingbird. So I used the Merlin Bird ID tool on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website to identify the bird. Merlin identified it as a Calliope Hummingbird, one that I have never seen before. I couldn’t believe it, so I grabbed a still frame from the video and compared that to the picture of the Anna’s Hummingbird and then to the picture of the Calliope Hummingbird. It was definitely a Calliope (the picture is the Featured Image at the top of this week’s blog). So, I got to add a new bird to my life list, which includes the five species of hummingbirds that I have seen. They are as follows: Ruby-throated Hummingbird (the only hummingbird I ever saw back East); Costa’s Hummingbird (I spotted one of these in Santa Barbara, CA); Anna’s Hummingbird & Rufous Hummingbird (I have seen these in Yakima since we moved here); and finally now the Calliope Hummingbird. I have always wanted to see one of the Calliope hummers, but they are mainly in the mountainous regions of Washington State, so I hadn’t had the opportunity as of yet. I am thrilled beyond words that we had one come visit our feeder during their migration to the mountains. (video below)
Below is some info on the Calliope (click here to read the full article on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website).
The male Calliope Hummingbird’s magenta coloring spreads out in streaks across its throat gorget. This is a very tiny bird, earning the distinction of being the smallest bird in the US. Its weight is about the same as a ping-pong ball. You will usually find the Calliope in mountainous areas, but the range map shows Yakima on its migration route to the breeding grounds in the mountains of Washington and Canada. This little hummingbird gets its name from Greek mythology, as Calliope was the Muse representing eloquence and epic poetry.
I got quite a bit of video of the Rufous Hummingbirds. Except for the first one I saw (shown in the first video above), the rest of them seem to be either females or immature males. I only saw one with the full-color gorget of an adult male. Some of these guys were so little that I could only see the top of their heads above the feeder. A couple of the days it was very windy outside, so the little hummers were having a time staying in one place to feed. I don’t see how they managed to fly at all with the wind whipping around at 18-20 mph. (video below)
The peak of the hummer activity was on Friday, April 30th. I had fewer sightings of them on May 01, and each day after that it decreased. I only saw one very briefly at the feeder on Monday, none on Tuesday, and so far today I haven’t seen any. I am thinking that they have all migrated to their breeding areas and so we won’t be seeing them until the babies are fledged. Typically I never saw hummers until July, but that may be because I didn’t have a feeder out in a good spot. I am hoping that I see them before July, but we will just have to wait and see.
Our weekly picture of the lilac bush has come to an end now. Linda took the picture below on the right on Saturday, when the blooms were at their peak. It’s the same branch that I’ve been photographing all along, but from a different angle. I took a picture today and the blooms are definitely starting to fade a little bit. But they have all been beautiful!
Mike, one of our friends back in North Carolina, sends me a picture of my mother’s peonies each year. Mike is taking care of them now. When we sold my parents’ house Mike asked if he could have my mother’s peony plant, and of course I agreed. So he dug it up and moved it to his house on Walnut Street. When he and Scott moved from there to out in the country, he dug it up again and moved it to their new house. I am sure my mother would be so proud of how well he has taken care of her peonies. It was a hot day when he took these pictures so they are a bit drooped, but I still think they are gorgeous!
Summer Girl usually gets on one of our laps in the morning while we are having coffee. But some mornings she just likes to chill out on the floor.
Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.