As Lillian Stokes mentioned in her last post, fall migration is a time when western hummingbird species can show up far east of their normal range. Lillian mentioned that one such species is the Rufous Hummingbird. As proof of this point, a male Rufous Hummingbird showed up at the hummingbird feeders of some birders in southern Minnesota this past month. It was the second Rufous Hummingbird in Minnesota in as many years, but it was only the 13th RUHU in MN overall. This year's visiting RUHU was a gorgeous adult male, only the 4th adult male to visit our state.
Because this hummingbird was coming reliably to the feeders of this particular home, dozens of birders made the trek to see it. For some it was a state bird, and for others it was a brand new addition to their life lists. I, too, decided to make the two-hour trip to see this bird. I had seen the ABA bird-of-the-year earlier in the year in both Arizona and Colorado, but it was such a close, reliable, and darn good-looking bird, that adding it to my Minnesota list was a good excuse to go. Plus, my 7-year-old birding son had never seen it.
The homeowners were the most gracious folks I've met, truly embodying the aura of Minnesota-nice. They were there to greet you with a handshake and have you sign their guestbook, a plain notebook where a numbered list of birders showed us that we were visitors #94 and #95. Unfortunately we got down to the site too late in the day, and we missed seeing the Rufous by just three minutes. It apparently had retired for the night. This caused a small amount of angst for the homeowner who was very proud that everyone who visited had seen the bird. It was a heart-breaker.
But we rebounded and made the same trip two days later. By now the list of birders was well over 130. Thankfully we did not repeat our earlier results. It took 15 minutes or so, but the Rufous Hummingbird finally came out to the feeder. What a dazzler this bird is!
The Rufous had been very aggressive in previous days, chasing away any and all Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that dared to go near HIS feeder. The day we visited, however, no RTHU attempted to feed there, and the RUHU was considerably less active, only showing every 15-20 minutes. It was a delight each time we saw it, regardless of how brief that was.
Trees loaded with apples are a beautiful sight in the fall - how much more so when a Rufous Hummingbird is nestled among its branches!
Though our sightings were brief, it was nice of the sun and the bird to cooperate for a moment to give me a shot of RUHU's beautiful gorget.
We had unusually warm, summer weather this September and so this Rufous Hummingbird came reliably to this same feeder for nearly two weeks. It is a gorgeous bird that provided life-long memories for the many people who came to see this wonderful vagrant from the west.