Tag Archive | rufous hummingbird

Sunday Showcase: Female Rufous Hummingbird

Photos taken by Rob English near Highwood House, SW of Calgary, in June 2012.

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Here are a couple of shots of a male Rufous Hummingbird taken at the same time, to show the difference.  For more of Rob’s photos of a male Rufous, see this post.

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Hummingbirds of the Weaselhead

Posted by Matthew Sim

This past Thursday, I went out for a walk in the Weaselhead with local nature expert Gus Yaki and a group of other birders. Our target species were the 2 species of hummingbird that call this park home; the Calliope Hummingbird and the Rufous Hummingbird. Though we saw and heard many great species on our walk, for this post I will concentrate on the hummingbirds.

When we reached the area where Calliope Hummingbirds are usually seen, we scanned around with our binoculars, searching for this tiny bird. The smallest bird in North America at 8cm in length (3.25 inches), this hummingbird can sometimes be passed off as a large bee. After several minutes, somebody found this beautiful male perched at the top of a spruce tree.

Male Calliope Hummingbird

We observed this little guy (the Calliope is the smallest long-distance avian migrant in the world) as Gus told us many neat facts about the species. For example, the pink streaks on the male’s throat form a V-shaped gorget, and these streaks are rather long, so that when the male turns his head, the streaks will actually reach back over his shoulder. This was my first time seeing the species so I was particularly enthralled with the bird. After some time, we moved on, back closer to the river in search of the Rufous Hummingbird.

We had to walk through some muddy spots to get to the habitat where the male Rufous is likely to be seen but was it ever worth it! When we got there, someone soon spotted the male Rufous and we soon all had our binoculars trained on him as he displayed his gorgeous orange-red gorget.

Male Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird was moving around a lot and we got to see him at various spots; perched and in flight.

At one point, he even came to the bushes right behind us and started feeding.  Gus told us that these bushes were actually Siberian Peashrub, more commonly known as Caragana. They are an invasive species that totally dominates the environment, so that no other flowering plants live in the area ( it covers 10-12 acres on the north side of the Elbow river). Male Rufous Hummingbirds  feed on these plants because of the abundant if  only temporarily nectar, however the females, which raise their families alone without the help of the males, realise that there is not enough nectar to raise a family on and head elsewhere, to richer, more natural environments. The males are then at a biological dead-end and do not have the oppurtunity to pass on their genes. This was quite fascinating and I would not have learned this had I not been on the trip with Gus. Thanks Gus!

He showed off his colors beautifully, revealing how he got his name.

We had a great morning watching these hummingbirds and learning lots about them thanks to Gus’ vast wealth of knowledge.

Must-see birds: June

June is another great month to go birdwatching, migrants can still be seen during the early parts of the month and the summer residents have started to settle down.  In June, the first fledglings appear, learning to survive and to fly. Our list for the month of June contains a varied list of species, some beautiful and others simply impressive.

1. Ruddy Duck

A small diving duck, the male Ruddy Duck has a black cap, white cheeks, a reddish body and a bright blue bill, rendering it a colourful duck. The female is dark brown above and lighter below with white cheeks and a gray bill. When disturbed, the Ruddy Duck will be more likely to dive then to fly. The Ruddy Duck may be seen at Frank Lake, which is where I see many Ruddy Ducks.

2. Mountain Bluebird

The male Mountain Bluebird is a beautiful sky-blue passerine from the thrush family. The female is brownish grey above and grey below, with some blue on the wings, rump and tail. A truly brilliant bird, the bluebird made it onto the list with ease. Look for Mountain Bluebirds in the Cochrane area or the Water Valley area in June. You can also visit the Ellis Bird Farm near Red Deer which is dedicated to the conservation of many birds, the Mountain Bluebird being one.

3. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is a widespread owl throughout much of North America but never fails to impress thanks to its large size and regal composure. It has been described as the fiercest,  most aggressive and most impressive owl of North America. The Great Horned Owl is also the official provincial bird of Alberta. There are many different places to see this large owl, there is currently a nest in the Sikome area of Fish Creek.

4.  Spotted Towhee

A member of the sparrow family, the Spotted Towhee is rather inconspicuous, except in the summer when the male can be found singing his distinctive call; one or two short introductory notes followed by a fast trill. The song may sound like the bird is singing, ‘drink your tea’. The best places to see the Spotted Towhee in Calgary are in the Weaselhead and in Votier’s Flats, in Fish Creek.

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Image courtesy Wikipedia

5. Rufous Hummingbird

Our last bird for the month of June is the Rufous Hummingbird, a bird with fiery colors and a fiery temper. The male has rufous coloring on his back, sides, flanks and tail while his crown is glossy green. The male Rufous Hummingbird is very aggressive and territorial and will use many different displays to protect his territory. Look for this hummingbird in  the Weaselhead or on the Many Springs Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park, west of the city.

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Image courtesy Wikipedia

Which of these birds can you find? Feel free to send us your photos and stories, they may make it up on the blog!

Posted by Matthew Sim