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Friday, October 02, 2015

Rare Rufous Hummingbird in NH Now!

Rufous Hummingbird, now coming to a feeder in NH.

Note the notch in the outer edge of the tail feather closest to the central tail feathers (called r2). This clue can help distinguish juvenile and female Rufous Hummingbirds from female and juvenile Allen's Hummingbirds. In this case there is a noticeable notch. Note also the two central tail feathers have extensive rufous with greenish tips.

Here is another view of the tail. The bird was also coming to a planter of impatiens flowers on the deck.

The throat is heavily marked with dark streaks and several lower central orange-reddish feathers.


Some of the head feathers have buffy edges.

In bright light the mirror-like central throat feathers look almost copper colored.

Here is (left to right) Don, birder Kathy who came with her birder/photographer husband, Steve, who took this photo, gracious hosts Stu and Mary who have this wonderful hummingbird coming to their deck feeder, and me.

This Rufous Hummingbird has been coming to a feeder in central NH; a rare event, as this is a western species of hummingbird whose breeding range goes as far up as Alaska. Rufous Hummingbirds have shown up in NH before (including in 2009 and 2007) and the trend is for them increasingly showing up in the eastern half of the country in fall. Adult male Rufous Hummingbirds have extensive rufous orange on their throats and backs. Females and immatures have streaked throats with variable amounts of orange and are more difficult to distinguish from similar looking Allen's Hummingbirds.

From our book, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America,
Rufous Hummingbird, "F. iridescent green above, below, orangish-brown flanks, white forecollar and central belly; throat finely streaked with bronze or green dots, often with irregular central orange-red blotch; tail with extensive orangish brown at base... Nearly identical in the field to f. Allen's and cannot be distinguished except by hard-to-see shapes of individual tail feathers. In f. Rufous, next-to-central tail feathers slightly notched on inner web, and outer tail feathers nearly as broad as adjacent ones. In similar f. Allen's, next-to-central tail feathers generally untouched, and outermost tail feather narrower than in Rufous, but difference slight. Juv. (Jun-Nov.) Like ad. f. but juv. f. may have whitish throat with few markings; juv. m. may have more heavily marked throat with larger iridescent reddish spots. Complete molt into ad. plumage occurs Sep.-Mar."

Thanks to the wonders of high speed digital cameras, I was able to capture details of the tail and plumage of this bird. The noticeable notch in the r2 tail feather is similar to the description and diagram in Pyle's "Identification Guide to North American Birds" (a manual used by bird banders) for a juvenile male Rufous Hummingbird; the juvenile female averages less of a notch. The juvenile male has the two central tail feathers "narrower and with substantial rufous at the base" the juvenile female has the two central tail feathers "broader and primarily green, without rufous or with some rufous at the base." The adult female has two central tail feathers with "greater amounts of rufous but less than in males." According to aging the Rufous Hummingbird in Pyle, the juvenile has a "crown with distinct, cinnamon edging." So basically the preponderance of clues point to this being a juvenile male Rufous Hummingbird.

Photos of mine and others are being sent to hummingbird banders for further confirmation.

We had a great time seeing and photographing this marvelous little bird and Mary and Stu were so generous to let birders visit! Thank you!

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