Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another White-winged Dove and...

Sunday, August 23rd, was an interesting bird-day in my yard. My new friend was here; we were having morning coffee while watching humming and other birds out the big picture window. He’d just come in after re-hanging a feeder just outside the window, where he’d experienced the magic of standing between two feeders and feeling the little birds buzz back and forth around his head, feeding with no apparent fear. We must have been chatting and watching them, as well as the many Evening Grosbeak families that have made the yard theirs.

Generally, I run-off the Eurasian Collared-doves from the close-in flat-bed feeder; they scatter food and run off the smaller birds. All I have to do is wave my arms from inside and they’ll take off; they’re pretty flighty. Suddenly, a different dove landed…a White-winged dove. Clearly it lacked not only the dark ring at the back of it’s neck, but it also had the tell-tail white feathering along the outside edge of it’s folded wing. Sweet! I hope it makes it through the coming cold weather…unlike the last one that was here during the fall/winter.

After a couple hours of visiting and watching birds, we noticed a very different hummingbird, too. While many of the little birds these days are females (males seem to leave first during migrations), we’re used to seeing lots of green backs and heads. When we noticed one that was more blue than green, we got very interested. It didn’t stay long, but it was decidedly blue-green along the head and somewhat on it’s back, too; a very different color…sort of a teal-green.

I wish I’d noted more about its tail or mandible …nothing stood out (for this not very observant birder) other than the very blue-ish color. It was such a surprise; I’d never seen such a color on a hummingbird.

I wonder what it could have been… It was a male, with red gorget and a tiny bit of white behind the eye. We think it looked a lot like some photos of the this beautiful Ruby-throat (here on the right), but that color was also reminicent of some photos I've seen of a Violet-crowned Hummingbird (though it doesn't have that beautiful red throat!).

Has anybody else noted this very different teal-green on a hummingbird seen in Colorado? Was it just a trick of lighting? We watched both this male, and a single female that came around later. I wish I had the time to spend another three hours watching them...

I got a couple shots (through a rain-stained window) today, a few days later. The color I mean shows up more in a larger photo...even on the photo of the Ruby-throat. I watched the bird more closely, it seems to be a youngster...isn't that what the downy bit near it's feet is all about? And when it hovers, I noticed the tail is white tipped and the undersides, including under the tail, are quite dark.

At any rate, BosqueBill must be right; it's a Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Perhaps that whole 'teal' thing (observed by two people) was just a play on light. Has anybody else noticed such a thing?


Bosque Bill said...

Sounds like a Broad-tailed Hummingbird to me as it would be extraordinarily rare to be a Ruby-throat. Too bad you weren't outside so you could listen for it's high raspy buzz.

Don't know what else would have a red gorget in your neck of the woods.

I have one Broad-tail along with my many Black-chins, half dozen Rufous, and few Calliope.

Beverly said...

Well, that's just it, Bill...I could hear birds outside, and don't recall this one making any noise. But the oddest thing was that teal-green on its head. It was nothing like the green I usually see on Broad-tails, or other hummers, for that matter. I'm not saying that Ruby-throats are that blue-green either, just that that particular photo was almost like what we saw. I know it's unlikely it was a Ruby-throat...but they have been documented here from time to time. My question would be...is their green a bit bluish? I've heard no mention of a 'teal-green' head.

Most of the male hummers in my yard are gone. There is the occasional...though I've not noticed a Black-chin in awhile (either by color or by that tail-wag). I was tickled to spot a couple Callipe, though...and a few Rufus, still. Probably most of the hummingbirds here right now are Broad-tailed.

Oh, and I doubt this color difference was lighting. Only the one male and the one female seemed to have that teal color; all other hummers were the typical green.

Bosque Bill said...

I'll look for that blue-green next time. Meanwhile, note that the Broad-tail (and not Ruby-throat) has quite a bit of buffy color on its body and females have rufous on the outer tail feathers.

Beverly said...

Well, that's why I was tickled to find this photo of the Ruby-throat. This bird's head-feathering also seems to be that teal-color...but nowhere have I heard it mentioned, much less discussed.

If you click on the photo here, you'll see how different it's head-color is from the more green color of its back. Perhaps this is just a refraction thang; but I sure didn't notice it on the Broad-tails or other 'green-backed hummers' in the yard. I also noticed a bit of the same color on the tail of the female; but very little. I didn't notice any buff...but that doesn't mean it wasn't there! I wish I'd done more than look intently at the teal-blue!!!

Anonymous said...

My last day of work I was blessed with one last hummer. Not particularly useful to you, but I just like to think about it.

Beverly said...

I think people hold hummingbirds and lightening bugs as special creatures; they seem as magical as fairies, doncha think?

Last day of work? I hope that's not a result of our lousy economy, SG. Did you only see the little things at work?

billfisher said...

Hi Beverly,
Just thought I'd take a look. Turns out we are both bird people.
Send me your e-mail. I'll send some pics. billfisher3@hotmail.com

Beverly said...

Ha! Whoever said blogging was silly; look, I just hooked up with an old high school chum! How cool is that!

I wonder what made him check out the White-winged Doves?