This morning, still wet from the heavy rains yesterday and last night, I saw what I believe to be a female Calliope Hummingbird. Of course, I really don’t know, but I’ve had them here earlier…or so some commotion a May 4th posting caused makes me think.
At any rate, when I came home last night, I was amazed to see so many birds at the feeders; it was after 5:30 and still raining. The birds were feeding hard…and were slick; dark with thoroughly wet feathers. I kept thinking I hope it doesn’t get too cold tonight! To help things along, I checked feeders it made sense to re-fill and made sure all the nectar feeders had enough to make it through to the early morning; and added a couple fresh suet cakes.
Back to the hummingbird; one of the things I thoroughly believe in is reading field guides and other books on local birds. One needs to know what one might see around here…and when, too. I do this, and while I suppose it might cause me to see things that are not there…like wanting a certain hawk to be a Ferruginous Hawk; I don’t like to say it’s so unless I’m certain. But, like seeing a smear of intense blue amongst the Lazuli Buntings, some ‘sightings’ prepare me for reality; a couple days later I got a long, clear look at an Indigo Bunting. Or like the other day when I noticed a ‘black-headed oriole’….I was prepared to consider either an Orchard or a Baltimore Oriole when I got a much better look later in the day.
So, this morning while I watched the birds and I noticed a single and very hungry female hummingbird at the feeder, sitting for quite a long time, I considered the fact that she practically had no tail. In fact, she had the ‘stubby cigar’ shape experts describe as a Calliope Hummingbird …with a sort of humped back I associate with the breed. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert birder and can’t tell female hummers one from another; but this one sure was stubby!
It could be she just arrived (though males usually arrive first) and was exhausted; it could be ‘she’ is a young male, and it could be she was just all puffed up because she was cold. I don’t know, but I got to watch here for quite awhile…even as others buzzed around her; back and forth from the feeders. I think I was watching the first of hummingbird variety number three: the Calliope Hummingbird…but I won’t know for sure till I see the males. They’re coming and I’ll be ready to identify them when they get here.
I lifted the second photo from www.MaxWaugh.com to show the stubby, ‘cigar-shape’ look that make Calliope’s unique. Please visit his site for the full-size image. The other image is from Wikipedia.