Friday, January 26, 2007

Requiem for a Hummingbird

This winter our yard has been blessed with two hummingbirds. One is a male Rufous. Lately his back color has changed from mostly green to mostly cinnamon, and large copper spangles now frame his little throat. Our other bird was greeny and harder to ID, but my observations and photos indicated it was a Ruby-throated.

Sadly, today I found our Ruby-throated lying dead on the porch (cause unknown, possibly a window kill). With bird in hand I was able to measure it's bill, confirming that it was a male Ruby-throated (at 15mm its culmen was outside the range of Black-chinned, and female Ruby-throats have longer bills than males).

I've put a lot of work into making our garden hummingbird-friendly, planting flowering shrubs and maintaining feeders. From the beginning the goal was to make our yard the sort of place where hummingbirds would want to spend the winter, and in the last two years all that work has started to pay off (we had our first winterers in 2005-2006, an unidentified Selasphorus and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird). In Southeast Texas wintering hummingbirds are most often western species. Rufous is the most "common" winterer, and Ruby-throated is actually quite rare. After November any hummingbird is a sight to be cherished. That's part of why I feel so sad at the loss of this bird. Also I had time to get to know him and his habits. After feeding and watching him for so long it's like losing a pet.

In the above photo you can see the bill measurement and basic size. Below is a picture of him the way I'd rather remember him, vibrant and full of life. Goodbye, little fella. I'll miss ya.I still suspect that there may be another Archilochus hummingbird (possible Black-chinned) wintering here. If so it's been a very infrequent visitor to our feeders.

But all is not grief and mourning. In happier news, Michelle had an ultrasound on Thursday, and not only are the babies doing fine, we found out that we are having a boy and a girl! Their names are Bryce and Lucy, and we are expecting them to make their debut sometime in May or June (hard to tell exactly when, since twins tend to come early). Michelle is back at work but taking it easier now.

A Hooter's just opened in Beaumont, and we had dinner there this evening. It was Michelle's idea. No really, it was her idea. She totally had to drag me along. We'd never been to one before, so there was the curiousity factor. And the owl theme, of course. The T & A was blatant and went way beyond my expectations (I mean really, the hula hoop act was a bit over the top), but the food and service were surprisingly good. Michelle didn't mind my sneaky gawking, and we even talked about taking her niece and nephew there sometime (sure...maybe afterward we can get them tatoos and a massage).

Twice today I spooked a pair of Wood Ducks down at the pond (I've only had one previous sighting there). A Hermit Thrush hopping on a neighbor's lawn was #130 for my year list.


At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It would help even more if you preserved the bird by getting the frozen carcass to someone. We would welcome the specimen for preservation.

Keith Arnold
TCWC, Texas A&M University
College Sttaion []


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