Friday, July 11, 2008

Hummingbirds in SoCo

A well-known blogger, Birdchick, mentioned something about a shortage of Hummingbirds this year. Wow, that doesn’t seem to be the case here in Southern Colorado. Way back early in May they started coming…someone even thought I had a Calliope Hummingbird visiting then; though I’ve never been able to confirm that, nor seen a male. I have, however, identified several-many pair of both Broad-tailed (those buzzy, little guys), and Black-chinned (the tail-pumpers), as well as the gorgeous, bronzed-brown Rufus Hummingbirds which seem to glint gold when the light is just right.

Left: Broad-tailed Humingbird (m)
Right: Probably Broad-tailed (f)

Mornings and evenings, the air nearly vibrates with the hum of these little creatures; diving and displaying, doing loop-de-loops in the sky, running off challengers or trying to attract partners…they’re quite busy. It’s a hoot to watch one hover in the tall grass or under the arching bow of a wild rose; hiding. For all their pugnacious-ness, I regularly see three or four of the little things at a single feeder; and I keep five such feeders (cleaned and refreshed daily as the weather heats up; fermented or cloudy nectar will kill).

Left: Black-chinned Hummingbird (m)
Right: Rufus Hummingbird (m)

To my recollection, I have more hummers than ever; but then…my rather new garden is growing and it’s been planted with birds and bees and butterflies in mind. I don’t use chemicals, am planting lots of native perennials and shrubs, as well as small trees and evergreens meant to attract wildlife; and I live by the river where very tall willows and cottonwoods grow. Someone mentioned their enjoyment of a slightly ‘shabby’ garden; mine is like that. There are some weeds, some places where wild grass grows tall, berries and flowers abound this time of year. It’s all I can do to get my fair share of raspberries and I just leave the sour cherries for the birds. How they spread the word when they’re ripe, I dunno; but one day the two little trees will be covered in fruit and the next, picked bare. Perhaps when the Virbunum and Elder get bigger and begin fruiting...and offering birds easy pickins, I’ll get some raspberries.

Edited to add: For the best pictures I've seen of those beautiful Calliope and Rufus Hummers (and more), check out Bosque Bill's page on Hummingbirds. Stunning!


Bosque Bill said...

Although my Black-chins were a couple days earlier this year, their numbers were noticeably fewer for the first month. Now there are about the same number as last year. I have three feeders hung and go through at least 64 oz. of sugar water a day.

Last year I had about 4 Rufous and two Calliope that arrived on July 19th. I'm watching carefully for their return. I only had one Broad-tailed last year off and on in the fall.

Beverly said... I still might see a Calliope here, huh? Cool!!!

How funny what a few hundred miles make (especially to a hummingbird!); I have LOTS of Broad-tails and what are we, five hours apart?

It also seems funny that I have so many of the little buggers (I'm talking maybe a dozen at a time), and 2-3 pair of Orioles as well, at my feeders; yet do not go through half as much nectar as yours do! Perhaps it's the flowers.

OH...and I witnessed one hunting on the lawn; who knew! (Hovering, of course...not walking along)

Beverly said...

Alrighty then… I went back to your website’s Hummingbird page ( I’d perused a couple months ago and noticed this:

“A male and female Rufous, a male Calliope, and about 16 - 20 Black-chinned Hummingbirds can be seen simultaneously during prime, mid-July, evening feeding time.”
Well duh…you have twice the hummingbirds that I do! Sheeshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

Stunning pictures, by the way! I'm gonna link to 'em! :D

Zoe Ann Hinds said...

I live in southeast Texas, about 90 miles or so from Houston, and have seen a lot fewer hummingbirds in this area as well. I'm not sure of the reason for this, but the number of hummingbirds in the area seems to have greatly decreased since Hurricaine Rita in 2005. The must common hummingbird we see here is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. I hope the number of birds will increase again in the future. I sure do miss the hummingbirds!

Beverly said...

Awwwww, I'm sorry you have fewer. Perhaps there is something about those big storms, huh?