Monday, September 1, 2008

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Vancouver Island

On Wednesday August 27 2008 I looked out onto the backyard to see what Hummingbird activity there was and I noticed a battle going on in the Bee Balm there was a Rufous juvenile repeatedly diving at another Hummingbird that looked different, at first I thought it might be an Anna's as I had been hoping to attract one.

The different looking Hummingbird won out in the battle and proceeded to take over the yard running off the Rufous.

I have perches for the Hummingbirds by the flower patches and he would perch close to the flowers and this gave me a chance to get some pictures so I could identify him.

First day pictures.

After looking at the pictures I knew right away that this was no Anna's Hummingbird so I posted the pictures at the Hummingbird Forum knowing my friends there would be able to identify this bird.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Vancouver Island

I was told that this was a Juvenile male and that Black-chinned and Ruby-throated juvenile males as are very similar in appearance but that the bill length and wing length show this as Ruby-throated plus that the gorget feather shows up red in some pictures confirms this.

Second day pictures

I sent the pictures to a friend and he posted the Rare Bird Alert on the BCVIBirds forum, there was some debate between Black-chinned and Ruby-throated but once some more pictures were shown with the red gorget feather and some wing detail the debate died down.

I also gave The Backyard Bird and Nature store a call as they do the bird alert for the Nanaimo area and they put the sighting in there Nanaimo Bird Alert.

On the second day a couple of friends that just happen to be photographers came over and we sat on the deck watching the Ruby-throated, Rufous and the other birds visiting the yard, the Ruby-throated put on a good show and we got some good pictures, he kept control of the perches close to us and would feed on the flowers right close to were we sat, we never did see him go to a Hummingbird feeder he just fed on the flowers and hawked insects.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are eastern birds and rarely seen in British Columbia, I did find them mentioned in the British Columbia Rare Birds List and here is the part on Ruby-throated's.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubri
1.(1) adult male; June 11-21, 1951; near Vanderhoof
2.(1) adult male; May 4-late May, 1977; Stories Beach, south of Campbell River (ph)82
3.(1) adult male; April 28, 1979; North Vancouver
4.(1) adult male; July 21, 1981; Cypress Bowl Provincial Park, West Vancouver
5.(1) adult male; June 12, 1983; near Tupper, south of Dawson Creek
6.(1) adult male; April 1-2, 1992; Campbell Valley Regional Park, Langley
7.(max 2) adult male & female; June-July, 2000; near Valley View, north of Dawson Creek
8.(max 2) adult male & female; June-July, 2001; near Valley View, north of Dawson Creek
9.(1) female; August 16, 2002; near Dawson Creek
10.(1) adult male; June 5 - July 5, 2003; near Taylor, south of Fort St.John
11.(8) 4 males/ 4 females; May 20-June 28, 2004; near Taylor, south of Fort St.John
12.(1) adult male; June 12-16, 2005; near Taylor, south of Fort St.John (ph)
13.(1) adult male; August 8-11, 2007; New Hazelton, Bulkley Valley (ph)

And I found some more details in the Birds of British Columbia page 482.

Day three pictures.

The first two days the weather was dark clouds and rain, not the greatest for taking pictures but we made do, the Ruby stayed close to the flowers and was busy guarding them from the Rufous and didn't venture off for any lenth of time, pretty well when every you looked there he was.

By the third day the weather had improved and although he was seen in the morning till 8:00 am he disappeared for a few hours, two birder/photographers had made arrangements to come and see the Ruby and he did show up before they did, he didn't stick as close to the flowers though as the previous two days, with the sunnier weather he was out and about more but did finally put on a show for the visitors and some nice pictures were taken

After every one was gone and the light was too low for photography the Ruby would sit on the perch on the deck with me and we would have a quiet time, he would perch closer than a Rufous would although the Rufous would feed closer.

On the fourth day he was there in the morning and disappeared after 8:00 am and again, I was hoping he would show up after a few hours like the day before as there were a number of people coming to see him but that was the last I saw of him, probably continuing his migration to the wintering grounds in Central America.

I have no idea how he came to be here and we will never know, juvenile hummingbirds are left on there own to find there way south as the adults leave earlier in the season once the breeding and nesting is finished the young birds gain strength and fat stores before migrating on there own, they don't always go in the right direction.

It was a very exiting experience and I am still looking out the window constantly to see if he is back and I do miss him.

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