In Scope: Rufous Hummingbird

rufous hummingbird female 

Rufous Hummingbird - female.....

 

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. ~ Genesis 1:20


 
A Rufous Hummingbird, male....

  Another exciting recent development in our garden is the possibility that we may have a hummingbird nest in our small evergreen tree ! We suspect a nest because the hummers get very agitated when we are in that section of the garden near the tree and just yesterday Mom and I saw a little female hover outside tree, utter a couple of chirps and then enter the tree. We left the area quickly so as not to disturb her and we try to stay away from the tree as much as we can. This is the first time (that we know of) that we have hummingbird nesting in our yard !


    I hope that you are enjoying a lot of hummingbirds in your garden.  I will continue to update you with any more new information as I have it.  Thanks so much for checking in !

Rufous Hummingbird Update: April 6th, 2012
 


 A Female and Male Rufous at our feeder....


   This month the Rufous Hummingbird season is really getting underway ! We have daily feeding frenzies at the feeder and I have increased the amount of sugar water I make to accommodate all the visitors !

     As far as the interaction between the two species are concerned, the males of either species do chase off the male of the other species (Rufous chasing Anna's and Anna's chasing Rufous ~ I have seen both). The male Rufous or Anna's will allow the females to visit the feeders at the same time, however, no matter which species they are.
I do have one Rufous Hummingbird male that chases ALL other hummingbirds that visit one of my feeders and thinks it only belongs to him ! He's a very cute, plump little male who always has a lot to say (lots of buzzes, chatters and chirps) as he defends the 'sweetest flower' he's ever found. He doesn't like to share; as I write he is chasing all other hummingbirds off 'his' feeder ! He often perches on our nearby fence to guard his prized 'flower'. The other hummingbirds visit anyway but we also have three other feeders up so they can all get plenty of nectar!

Our bossy little boy ~ a cute male Rufous Hummingbird !
Photo By, Jessi Wasell

    I have also had the opportunity to witness both the male Anna's and Rufous' courtship and territorial displays. What an amazing sight it is to see these tiny little birds flying up and down, performing their perfectly choreographed mid air displays ! Their flashing gorgets add shimmering beauty to the amazing way in which they defend their territory or try to get the attention of a potential mate ! The Rufous and Anna's male's calls are very different from one another as they chase off 'intruders' or display for females ~ so I can tell who is displaying or defending territory even without looking outside. But I never can resist taking a look ~ its a special treat to see such remarkable behavior !


    The females are easier to tell apart from one another as I get used to seeing both species at the feeder. One of the main markings that Rufous females have and Anna's females don't is their rufous sides. The Anna's females are also generally bigger than the Rufous although we do occasionally get a big Rufous female ! The feeder scene is very active and lively here in our garden ~ just the way I love to see it ! I hope you all are getting to enjoy a similar scene in your own gardens. I will keep you posted on any more updates through out the hummingbird season. Check back in May for more Rufous Hummingbird news. Happy Hummingbirding !
 
Rufous Hummingbird Update: March 10th, 2012
 
    Our first Rufous Hummingbird of the season arrived yesterday, March 9th ~ on time according to my records from past years ! Our first hummer this year was a beautiful, tiny little male. He looked quite good after his long migration journey ~ he is robust and in good health. It made me really happy to see that he was doing so well, since many hummingbirds have arrived looking very skinny and scrawny in years past.


    I first spotted him when I suddenly heard the sound of noisy hummingbird wings outside our living room window. I turned around to look out at the feeder we have hanging in the window ~ I just knew that was NOT an Anna's Hummingbird's wings I was hearing (Rufous Hummingbird males have much louder wings). When I turned around I saw a dazzling little male showing off his ruby-red gorget ! Then he flew off ~ as quick as he came, but not for long ! For the rest of the day he came back often for sugar water and has been visiting ever since ! This morning we saw our first female Rufous Hummingbird of the season. She looked remarkably healthy and in good condition as well.
It's so exciting when the Rufous come back every year ~ it really makes it feel like winter is really over and spring is here when Rufous Hummingbirds arrive. What a blessing they are. I hope to get some good video and pictures of these little jewels soon so I can share them with you !

    By, Jessi Wasell 
 
In Scope: March 2012


    Welcome to our first spring edition of In Scope. For the month of March I am featuring the Rufous Hummingbird. The Rufous is the hummingbird species that is a spring and summer visitor to our area. They spend the breeding season here in the North and migrate South in the fall to spend the winter in Mexico and other South American countries.   

    Our first Rufous Hummingbirds usually come in early March around my sister's birthday. As it gets towards the end of March to early April, we have a daily flurry of activity around the feeders with many Rufous Hummingbirds trying to get at the nectar all at once as the picture below depicts. We still have the Anna's Hummingbirds visiting year round, so we get to enjoy both species at the same time. The female Anna's and Rufous are somewhat hard to tell apart, so its always a fun challenge to try to figure it out ! The differences are the Rufous are smaller and have more of a rusty color with green while the Anna's are a little bigger and more green in color than the Rufous.


 
Its a feeding frenzy! Rufous Hummingbirds visiting our feeder at dusk, Photo By, my Mom, Janis Wasell

    I love hummingbirds. I always call them 'living jewels' because they really are! Small in size and absolutely beautiful, hummingbirds are little gems that glisten in the sun! There are so many neat facts about these little jewels, let's take a look at some of their most fascinating characteristics.


Fascinating Facts

 Did you know....

 

 

God Thought of It First !
 

Rufous Hummingbird male, notice his beautiful gorget! Photo By, My Mom, Janis Wasell


Gardening for and Feeding Hummingbirds
 
    Hummingbirds are a delight to watch and very easy to attract to your garden. A combination of feeders and a hummingbird garden full of spring and summer blooming flowers are great for attracting the Rufous Hummingbird.
 
Feeding
 
    Hummingbirds will come to feeders that have been filled with a sugar water solution that imitates real flower nectar. A solution of 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water is great. No food coloring is necessary as hummingbirds will be sufficiently attracted to the colorful plastic of the feeder. Red food coloring may also be harmful to hummingbirds. Also, it's best not to use honey, corn syrup, juice or artificial sweeteners in a hummingbird feeder because it can cause illness and death in hummingbirds. Artificial sweeteners will not provide the calories a hummingbird needs so be sure to use white granulated sugar only. Cleaning and refilling your feeders regularly will prevent bacteria from growing that would be very unhealthy for birds. I clean and refill all of our hummingbird feeders weekly and sometimes more in the height of Rufous season.
Gardening
 
   In the spring and summer their are many flowers you can use to create a garden space that hummingbirds will love. I've created a list of flowers that we are planting in our garden for hummingbirds to enjoy. Hummingbirds love many types of flowers. Red flowers are a favorite, but they enjoy many flowers of various colors. Hummingbirds will also use evergreen trees and deciduous trees for nesting sites.
 
Plant List

    These are the flowers we are growing in our garden for the hummingbirds this year. We are growing all of these plants in containers, planters and hanging baskets since each of these flowers are very suitable for container gardening. As the year goes on, we may add more but this is a great place to start !
 
Annuals


1. Cardinal Climber Vine
2. Impatiens (Flavour's Hybrid Vanilla, Flavour's Hybrid Strawberry, and Flavour's Hybrid Mix, also Dazzler Hybrid Mix and Dwarf Pink Baby)
3. Nasturtiums (Peaches and Cream and Jewel Mixed Colors which have some deep reds, oranges and yellows.)
4. Lobelia (Blue "Crystal Palace")
5. Gypsophila ~ Covent Garden [Elegens] (for a splash of white with all the other beautiful colors of the other flowers.)
The following is a list of some other annual Hummingbird Flowers to consider when choosing what to plant in your own garden.
1. Salvia
2. Petunias
3. Red Hot Poker
4. Cardinal Flower (different from Cardinal Climber Vine)
5. Begonias
6. Foxglove (cultivated or wild)
7. Four O' Clocks
8. Gladiolus
9. Penstemon
10. Fuchsias
 
Perennials
 
    There are also many perennial flowering plants that hummingbirds enjoy, not just for flowers but also for perching places and bathing spots.


1. Roses (Various varieties ~ choose your favorite! Great for perching places for hummingbirds and other birds.)
2. Rhododendron (Cover for birds and bathing places for hummingbirds ~ they will wriggle themselves along the glossy leaves of rhodies to bathe when they are damp from dew, rain or a sprinkler, since birdbaths are generally too deep for hummingbirds.)
3. Deciduous and Evergreen Camellias (Various varieties are attractive to hummingbirds for cover, perching places, and nectar from the flowers.)
 
Zoom In: Species Profile

 

rufous hummingbird female

A Rufous Hummingbird, female, what a beauty!

    The Rufous Hummingbird's scientific name is Selasphorus rufus.  This hummingbird is smaller than the Anna's Hummingbird at only 3 1/2 to 4 inches (9-10 cm) long.  The male and female Rufous' look different from one another.  The male is a vibrant rufous (reddish-brown) color on his wings, back, head, sides and tail and has a gorgeous red-orange gorget (throat patch) and a white patch on his chest.  The female is green on her upper body, with rufous color on her 'rump' and sides and a white chest and throat.  The female shows a flashy-patterned tail when fanning her tail in defense.  Immature male Rufous Hummingbirds look much like the female.


    A female Rufous Hummingbird fanning her tail to defend the feeder from the incoming male in the lower right hand corner who is flashing his gorget....

    These little birds are feisty in nature and will fiercely defend their territory and food sources with gorget and tail displays and even 'sword fight' with their beaks.  The male also uses his gorget in displays for the females.

    The diet of the Rufous Hummingbird is mainly nectar from flowers, sugar water from feeders and insects.  They will also occasionally drink sap from the holes that sapsuckers create in trees.

    Rufous Hummingbirds prefer a habitat of alpine meadows, habitats bordering forests and residential areas with gardens that contain hummingbird feeders and flowers.

    The typical breeding season for the Rufous Hummingbird is April through July.  Female Rufous' lay two tiny white eggs in a small golf ball sized nest made of lichens, downy plant material and spider webs in a deciduous or evergreen tree.

    Rufous Hummingbirds migrate twice a year, migrating to live in the north in the spring and summer and traveling south for the winter.  In the breeding season their range is from the southeastern parts of Alaska and British Columbia, east to Alberta, and down to the Pacific Northwest in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and also the western parts of Montana and Northern California.  In the winter, Rufous Hummingbirds live mostly in Mexico, but also may migrate to other South American countries as well as the Gulf Coast and sometimes North and South Carolina.

Activity Pages

    This month I have created some fun activity pages for kids about the Rufous Hummingbird and also a word search puzzle for the Spring Kids Page.  They are in a free downloadable PDF format by clicking here.

Devotional

    Hummingbirds are truly a marvel of God's creation.  There are many wonderfully diverse and beautiful species of hummingbirds.  Well over 300 species of hummingbirds exist in the world.  Some say there are 340 species of hummingbirds while others say as many as 356 types or species.  Each and every one of them are gorgeous and unique.  When I think of God's creation, I am filled with awe and wonder at the many things He has made.  I am reminded of Psalm 104:24, which says,

    "O Lord, how many and varied are Your works!  In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your riches and Your creatures."

Also in John 1:3 it says,

    "All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being."

    I am amazed at His creativity and Wisdom in creating the earth and everything in it, even the whole universe.  When I see a hummingbird, one of God's Living Jewels, I can't help but think about how beautiful and awesome God is.


    I hope you have enjoyed this month's edition of In Scope.  Check back next month as we take a closer look at another one of our vibrant spring birds, the American Goldfinch.  Until next time, happy spring gardening and bird watching!  God bless you!

    By, Jessi Wasell