For those of you that get multiple species of hummingbirds, I seriously envy you. The dominant hummingbird in my region is the Ruby-throat and I consider myself blessed to have just this one type, but when the rare Rufous appears in my yard, life changes dramatically for me. Over the past eight years I've had six years where a Rufous has made one or more appearances. Every year I have full anticipation that another will show up, but that's not always the case. Four of those six years I had a Rufous stop in on the southern migration. One year a beautiful male was the first hummingbird of the season, and another adult male Rufous showed up at the beginning of July a couple years later. I'm a fair distance away from the Rufous Territory, so any time I see one I get just a little bit excited.
This last summer I had a juvenile Rufous show up in August. Once you've heard thousands of Ruby-throats, a Rufous sounds noticeably different. A facebook friend described it perfectly as a miniature weed whacker. They have a similar hum to the Ruby Throat, but with a buzz mixed in, and their squeak is a bit different as well. Their bad attitude is similar to that of the Ruby-throat, but with perhaps just a bit more crankiness. Any ways, back to my point. I repeatedly heard an unusual hummingbird in the back corner of our garden. I simply dismissed it as a young Ruby-throat that didn't quite develop its voice. I mentioned this repeatedly to my wife until finally she said, "maybe it's a Rufous". Why didn't I think of that. I slowly walked to the back corner of the garden. As I approached, one hummingbird kept at least a 50 foot distance. I sat still for several minutes until this beautiful copper/olive colored hummingbird started to feed. Man, did I get excited. I snuck back to the house. Well, I guess it was more like a sprint to get my camera. I snuck back to the corner of the garden and got into position. It was a young Rufous, but he was aware of every movement I made. He gave me very few opportunities to snap a picture. When he was done feeding from the flowers he would perch behind me, about 30 feet up. He would cock his head sideways and watch every move I made. I finally managed to get one half decent shot. I was content but hoped to get more opportunities the next day. Unfortunately, he moved on early the next morning.
The anticipation is already building for the upcoming season. Will he show up again and perhaps duke it out with Ziggy? Only time will tell.
Rufous Hummingbird August 2016, N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta.
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