Monday, November 7, 2011

Wayne Co.'s 1st Rufous Hummingbird! - 07 Nov 2011

It was just after 3 pm when I checked my e-mail.  I had gotten a message from my Southgate, MI neighbor Mark Wloch informing me that he had a couple photos of a (November) hummingbird that he had just taken in his yard, and was trying to post to Grovestreet.  He also invited me to stop by to try and get some pics.

I left work immediately and headed home to grab my camera gear.  I got to his house as soon as possible, and was happy to see Allen Chartier's car parked in his driveway.  After knocking on the door and meeting daughter Hanna I walked around back just in time to see Allen removing the small hummingbird from the trap he had just set to capture to little bird.

After a few minutes of poking and prodding and measuring Allen confirmed that the hummer was indeed an immature female Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)!  Wayne County's first record, at that!

Mark's photos had confirmed that the bird was a Selasphorus hummingbird (and more than likely a Rufous), but according to Allen this was a bird that required hand measurements to confirm that it was not an Allen's Hummingbird. 

The second retrix, r2 (tail feather) in immature Rufous Hummingbirds are normally notched at the end, except in some cases (here) where it is rounded.  Precise measurements of r1 (central) and r5 (outermost) are then needed to determine the width, which allows differentiation of Rufous from Allen's.  Other measurements were needed to confirm sex and age. 

John F. Garrett describes the identification of Selasphorus hummingbirds in 2006 ABA document.

Examination of the bird revealed a partially deformed bill.  And, according to Allen "usually females have a dozen or two dozen iridescent gorget feathers (not tiny ones either)". This bird also was showing little-to-no evidence of molt, which is unusual.  Its weight was at the low end of a healthy range, and it showed no body fat.  So, hopefully it'll stay around and find enough nourishment before heading on its way.

Allen gave Mark the little hummer to release, and after a few moments in his hands the bird flew to the Sycamore tree overhead, then over to hedges, before making a few passes at the feeder and disappearing over the house.  We didn't stay, and let Mark go out to get more nectar.

Congratulations, Mark!  Wayne Co. first Rufous couldn't happen to a better guy!  And thanks to Allen Chartier for the biology lessons!

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