Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Johnson City Hummer is a Hardy Bird!

After high winds yesterday of up to 45 mph and an early morning low of 23°F,  the probable Rufous female hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) at the home of Katherine Noblet, in Johnson City, has weathered the cold front just fine.
Photo credit:  Katherine Noblet

Last night Katherine reported on TN-Bird:  "My hummer is roosting in the interior of a large holly shrub that is about 6 feet from my feeder.  She is feeding about every 15 minutes and looks cold and nervous.  I think she will probably spend the night in the holly.  The shot in the holly is taken through several panes of glass and it is very low light!"
Photo credit:  Katherine Noblet

This morning Katherine sent the images below with the message:  "Alive and alert."
 
Photo credit:  Katherine Noblet

In his October presentation about wintering hummingbirds, Master hummingbird bander, Mark Armstrong, described wintering Rufous hummers that he has banded as healthy, molting and growing new feathers, having a good level of fat, and clearly fairing very well in the east Tennessee winter climate. These hummers depend on natural sources of nectar, insects, and tree sap to sustain their diet in the winter.
Photo credit:  Katherine Noblet

Rufous hummingbirds are the most common hummingbirds found in Tennessee in the fall and winter months, but you typically will not see them unless you leave a nectar feeder out.  Mark says that there are always hummingbirds that stray from the traditional migration route, but the numbers of Rufous hummingbirds found in the east does not fit a random or accidental picture.  In 2011-2012, over 500 Rufous hummingbirds were banded in Alabama and Northern Florida, and 400 in Louisianna. In east Tennessee, Mark personally banded 20 Rufous Hummingbirds in the 2012-2013 winter season. 

Bob Sargent has been banding Rufous hummingbirds in the east since the 1980's and his research suggests that a hardy strain of Rufous Hummingbirds is developing that is genetically programmed to winter in the southeast.  The Rufous species traditionally breeds in the northwest, and migrates through the southwest to winter in Mexico.

Links and Resources:

Nov 11, 2013 report on Western Hummingbirds Wintering in Tennessee
Fourteen species of hummingbirds have been documented in the east during fall and winter months.  In east Tennessee, report sightings to Mark Armstrong at Woodthrush@bellsouth.net or 865-748-2224.  For a list of contact information for other eastern areas, visit winter reporting on the Hummingbird Study Group website or report sightings to Bob and Martha Sargent, Rubythroat@aol.com or 205-681-2888.
Other blog posts on Wintering hummingbirds in Tennessee
Visit Bob Sargent's information on wintering hummingbirds
Bob Sargent describes the Rufous Hummingbird as very cold-hardy.
Sargent on wintering Calliopes and the Allen's Hummingbird
Hummingbird banding
Hummingbirds in watercolor
Hummingbird art on Vickie's Sketchbook blog

4 comments:

  1. This is really interesting, Vickie!

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    Replies
    1. It is intriguing. I'm amazed at the hardiness of the rufous species!

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  2. Vickie - this is a beautiful post. Lovely pictures, great information. And I know how long it takes to pull all of this together! Thank you! (And your work is incredible!!!!!)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Wendy! Its great to see you here!

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