[Tweeters] Rufous x Anna's Hummingbird in my yard!

Joshua Glant josh.n.glant at gmail.com
Tue Jun 9 07:46:29 PDT 2015

Hello Tweets,

Some of you may have noticed, while scanning my Flickr after watching the warbler video, that I had some interesting hummingbird photos uploaded. Well, here's the story.

I got home from school yesterday afternoon, and decided to go outside and bird. The Black-headed Grosbeak and Western Tanager were both singing along with robins to complete the trifecta, and Pacific-slope Flycatchers could be heard calling in the forest as well. Red-breasted Sapsuckers mewed from the woods, as did a Hairy and Downy Woodpecker. "My" Olive-sided Flycatcher sat on his favorite perch, a snag that towers 100 feet above the surrounding forest, and sang his lovely song.

I stood on our porch scanning for birds when I heard the distinctive sound of a Rufous Hummingbird calling. I whipped around, and saw a female chasing away one of our Anna's! This was at about 3:25 PM. I was very excited, as I had been waiting a long time for my first yard Rufous.

Since I hadn't used playback in the past year, I decided that this was a worthy time
for it. Using my Merlin app, I played one shuttle display and a moment of flight calls. The female Rufous came back, and entered into a chase around the yard with an Anna's. At 3:30 PM, another Hummingbird joined the fray. It perched on a rhododendron bud, and I caught a glimpse through my binoculars before it buzzed away: a male Rufous! Or so I thought...

When he came back and perched on a bus nearby his first perch, I noticed that his back was all green. Funny, I thought, even the rare "Green-backed" variants rarely have that much green! Then I looked closer. Not only was his back not rufous, but his vest wasn't either! It was like all the rufous feathers had been replaced by green, except for on the edges of his breast and around his face.

When he turned my way, I saw his gorget flash: and much to my surprise, his crown flashed as well! His throat was, except for two small points on the bottom corners, just like that of a Rufous, but the color was wrong. At certain angles, it appeared the normal copper-orange, while at others it appeared to be rosy-pink. That was when the realization hit me, and I began to get very excited. He hovered for a moment, and his tail spread out before me: a classic Rufous tail. His two innermost rectrices were green, and the rest were orange and black, just as they should be on a Rufous.

His voice was also completely that of a Rufous, all buzzy and bouncy and excited, not the mechanical sound of an Anna's at all. But when he flew, no wing trill was to be heard. A few times while chasing off Anna's, I heard a sound like a short, weak shuttle display, but it might have been an aggressive call that I've never heard before.

I sat on the porch for two hours, watching him come and go. Often, he would sit inside a thick bush five feet from the feeder, preening. I was positioned just right so that I could see him in there, looking around and running his bill over his feathers and grooming his belly.

Whenever he was perched and territorial, he would bob his head from side to side, as can be seen in one of my videos. He would spread his tail and wings when another hummer got too close, giving me a nice view of his completely Rufous-patterned tail.

In flight, my glancing visual impression with the naked eye could be described as "an Anna's with a Rufous's tail and gorget".

When I described the hybrid to my mom, she said, "Oh, it must be a Rufanna's!" I like the ring of that.

He really is a gorgeous hybrid bird! Numerically, this is by far the rarest bird I've ever seen. How many have been seen in our state previously? 2-3? And in the world, 20? I'm so excited!

Now, if anyone would like to see the bird, I'll first have to make sure that he comes back regularly. Contact me if you are interested, and I'll send you my address; my parents' condition is that visits are reservation-only, because we can't handle too much parking. Rest assured, I will keep the feeder clean and stocked! If you are interested and you've contacted me, you can come visit after 3 PM any day this week.

For now, you are welcome to peruse my Flickr for photos and videos of Mr. Hybrid (more to come!):


Morning update: I just saw the female (immature male?) Rufous at the feeder, and I think that the hybrid appeared briefly too. Also, a female and immature male Anna's; I've never had such activity before!
I couldn't bring myself to use playback for more than a quiet moment.


Good birding, and may you fulfill your wildest (pun intended) birding dreams, Joshua Glant

Mercer Island, WA

Josh.n.glant at gmail.com

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