Monday, April 21, 2008

Finally, a male RUHU at the feeder.

A reader from down under (does NZ count as down under?) asked, regarding an earlier Rufous Hummingbird post, how I knew the bird in the picture was a female. Here, pictorially, is the answer. The males actually are rufous, unique within the hummingbirds, I believe.

Note also the gorget, the colour-bearing throat feathers, which form a more expansive patch in males of all species. The feathers of the gorget are flat and iridescent. Their bright colour is structural, and when not reflecting light in your direction they appear dark.

Then the bird turns and gives you a blast of colour. Different species reflect different colours. Every so often this will happen unexpectedly-- a flash of scarlet or magenta will catch your eye as an unseen hummingbird perched in a bush turns its head in the sunlight.


Chrisss said...

Thanks for the info on the differences bwt male and female RUHU. We found a dead female RUHU about a year ago when we were doing an ecological survey. It was pretty sad to see it laying there, as she was beautiful.

Emily said...

Ahhhh. My territorial males... I had to put another feeder in the yard, as when deadheading flowers near the feeder, I was in danger of getting beaned by a liitle beak!!! Those little guys were fighting quite a bit! I put my 2nd feeder up a less than a week ago, and haven't even seen a hummer in my yard since!!! (??) I also get hummingbirds with green head occasionally... do you know what variety these are?

Emily (from Mary Hill in Poco)

Hugh said...

Hi Emily,

By far the most common hummers here are Rufous Hummingbirds. The females and juveniles have green heads. Anna's Hummingbirds, becoming more common here, also are green-headed (juveniles and females).