[Tweeters] Rufous again-female this time

earthman1950 at whidbey.com earthman1950 at whidbey.com
Fri Feb 26 18:29:27 PST 2016

At risk of losing my birding reputation, I am reporting a female rufous
hummingbird that was on a feeder outside my living room this afternoon. I'm
not one who looks for rare sightings, travels to see birds in unusual
places, or tries to see a species first in an area. I just like watching
birds. I did not get any photos as it didn't stay on the feeder very long,
but I will be looking for it tomorrow.

I was sitting watching tv when this bird appeared on the feeder right
outside the window. It looked small, just as a male rufous had first
appeared two days ago on the same feeder. After looking at nothing but
Anna's for the past six months, the slightly smaller size of a rufous is
readily apparent. I grabbed my binos from the table next to the chair and
took a look. The bird was on the feeder, mostly facing me. I could clearly
see red on the flank, a red spot on the throat, and some streaks on the
sides of the throat. The bird was definitely lighter in color than an
Anna's on the front. I could not see the back of the bird from that angle.
I know this is early, especially for a female, but there is nothing else it
could be but a rufous. I was outside for a couple hours at our place during
mid day today and looked for rufous hummers during that time, but didn't
see any. There are plenty of Anna's right now spread out over our acreage
with 9 feeders, but not noticeably more than in the past month. Our
Red-flowering Currants in our field are breaking into bloom as well, all 33
of them, which will hopefully be a beacon to any passers by.

I looked on the internet to see if it might be possible that an immature
male could look like a female at this time of year, but I could not find
that information. The sources said that the young males have their adult
plumage by winter. Is there any chance that this bird was a male that
hadn't gained its adult plumage yet? Seems unlikely, but perhaps someone
here would know if that is a possibility.

George Heleker
earthman1950 at whidbey.com
Clinton, WA-Whidbey Island

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