Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's Up With the Wandering Hummers?

According to the Morning Sun, a newspaper in Mt. Pleasant, MI, a rufous hummingbird was seen this week in that part of Michigan. That's pretty amazing since rufous hummers usually hang out between Washington and Alaska. The sighting was documented by a hummingbird researcher.

For the second year in a row, an Allen's hummer was at a feeder near Knoxville, TN, in October. This was verifiable because last year the little bird was banded while in Tennessee. Allen's hummers have a very small, narrow, breeding range along the cloud-shrouded Pacific coast from southern Oregon to southern California. They have both a migratory race that winters in a small area in central Mexico and a non-migratory race that winters in California. So why is this bird in Tennessee?

In the last two months more than 60 western stray hummers have been found in Pennsylvania according to the Lehigh Valley website. Most sightings have been rufous hummingbirds that breed from the Pacific Northwest up into Alaska but there have also been three surprise species, all three of which have been found in the southeastern part of the state. A Calliope was in a backyard near Philadelphia, then on Nov. 10 a black-chinned hummingbird spent one day in a yard north of Levittown, and this week there is an Allen's in a yard near Pipersville in Bucks County.

Is it that there is a shuffling or ranges within the hummingbird world? All of these areas are in the normal ruby-throated hummingbird summer habitat. Or are we just becoming more aware of hummers? Imagine the thrill of seeing a "foreign" species in your yard outside the regular "season". What fun!

Hummingbird fact for today: Never say ALWAYS or NEVER when talking about hummingbirds!

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