Rufous Hummingbird in Ahtanum
Denny alerted me to a message on the Yakima Valley Audubon Society's
voice mail this morning. He had to go to Seattle today and wondered if
I would follow up on this unusual report.
A male Rufous Hummingbird has been visiting a nectar feeder in the
Ahtanum area for weeks. I went out this afternoon and was graciously
invited into the home to view the feeder hung next to the kitchen window.
Sure enough, the hummer visited the feeder twice while I was there.
The gray skies muted the lighting but the bird clearly had rufous tones
to the crown, nape, back and flanks. The throat had a well defined dark
gorget that the lighting or viewing angle never really lit up...at times it
appeared dark green and sometimes a dull, burnt orange. I did not have
a good look at a fanned tail from behind but an Allen's Hummingbird
would be a real humdinger to expect. Plus, I believe the rufous crown
rules it out.
I've rarely seen hummers at a distance of three feet...therefore, I a bit
surprised at how tiny this guy appeared. The rufous tones were duller
than field guides depict but this may be due to feather wear and/or
The homeowners name is Kathie and she lives on Nelson Road. If
you would like to visit, give her a call at 388-4670. Her husband
placed a heat lamp above the feeder and they have wrapped the glass
with a decorative red cover over insulation. Kathie heard that the
temperature will drop to six degrees on Monday.
This may be the latest a Rufous Hummer has been documented in
the Yakima Valley
In the latest Bird Watcher's Digest, Kenn Kaufman discusses vagrant
birds: Every time a bird species expands its range, after all, the
expansion is driven by individuals that have gone beyond the "normal"
distribution. For every species with a wide range, every outlying
population must have been established first by birds that were, in a
sense, lost. Most birds that stray out of range undoubtedly perish,
but a tiny percentage of them will survive and thrive and start new
populations. At that point they are no longer mere vagrants. We
could call them pioneers.
So, the test is on. Anna's Hummingbirds, once rare in winter here,
are now almost expected to be in the valley in small numbers every
winter. Wishing the best to this "pioneer'!!
Befuddled Birder by 3700 Bonnie Boone
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