Well here is something that I am so very excited to share. I just spent about 5 hours watching the remaining birds feeding heavily in my yard. There were about 10 Rubies to start the morning, and then I witnessed 5 of them migrate over about 30 minutes. There were still a few that remained including a vocal little one. The sound was a bit unusual for a Ruby, but I really never thought much of it at first. Then when he flared up into the sky and hovered, it appeared to have some buff coloring. I immediately grabbed my binoculars and started to watch for it. There were too many differences from the Rubies to believe it was the same as the others. He did act like Ziggy's kid because he perched on every high point Ziggy did, and acted as though this yard was his. He chased every other hummingbird in sight. This one was a radical! He chased one to the bushes right beside us, and when the other perched, did he ever put on a display. He took a flying start and went up about 50 feet or more in the sky and then did the drop of doom on the other hummingbird. When it neared the ground it created a whistling sound like no Ruby I've ever heard. It was then, I was convinced it was NO Ruby-throat. I got my camera and started taking pics. I managed to get a few pics within 15 feet of him to confirm my thoughts. I'd never heard of Rufous performing this display or making that kind of sound. I still was in disbelief. Could it actually be a Calliope? Calliopes range is about 200 miles or more west of me. They're not like the Rebel Rufous and wander across the country periodically. My guess is that the heavy fires in the mountains have pushed many of them further inland than normal. I'm telling you, this was a moment of a lifetime for me. I get pretty excited when the odd Rufous shows up, but a Calliope? He didn't disappoint. That was a display like I've never seen. He continued this hovering and diving display for about an hour with every hummingbird he encountered. And that whistling dive...Wow! I know the sound isn't a chirp from its bill, but that's exactly what it sounded like as it neared the ground, a whistling chirp!
When you're not expecting a rare bird, this one can look very similar to a Ruby at first glance, but it's buff underside, its shorter tail than wings, and green gorget feathers were the dead giveaway. The chattering and personality was something much different as well.
Juvenile male Calliope hummingbird. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. August 20, 2018
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