Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunshine's Got Me Humming for Hummers!

I love this time of year. Spring is beautiful. After months of winter and overcast skies the sunny blue sky decorated with fluffy white clouds is priceless. Pink, white, yellow, and blue flowers are decorating trees, shrubs, lawns, fields, and meadows. The excitement for spring prompted me to pull out my hummingbird feeders, fill, and hang them this afternoon. I am humming for hummingbirds.

This is the view through my home office window now that I've hung my front porch feeder. I love our Utah mountains and canyons. I would love for the pink ornamental peach blossoms to hang around longer than the next strong spring wind.

The first hummingbirds to show up in my yard here in Utah County are usually Black-chinned, but I sometimes hear the trilling of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds before I see my first hummingbird of the spring.

Male Black-chinned Hummingbird at Feeder in Pleasant Grove, UT
Female (possibly young male) Black-chinned Hummingbird at Yard Feeder in Pleasant Grove, UT
Male Broad-tailed Hummingbird in American Fork Canyon Utah County, UT
Female Broad-tailed Hummingbird in American Fork Canyon Utah County, UT
The Black-chinned are seen throughout the summer and early fall, but the Broad-tailed tend to make their way up to higher elevations after a brief spring visit. I see them in my yard again a little later in the summer after they finish breeding and are making their way south again.

Fall Migration for hummingbirds actually starts during the month of August here in northern Utah. That's when I get the chance to see Rufous Hummingbirds. They tend to move north along the west coast in the spring migration and down the Rocky Mountain Range during fall migration. They are the feistiest hummingbirds when they make a temporary claim on my feeders during their fall migration southward. They will chase off all other hummingbirds that try to get some sweet water at the feeders.

Male Rufous Hummingbird Duchesne (Doo-shane) County, UT
Immature Male Rufous Hummingbird in Duchesne County, UT
Female Rufous Hummingbird in Pleasant Grove, UT
If you get too used to seeing the typical hummingbirds in northern Utah you may actually be sleeping at the hummingbird wheel when an uncommon species pays a visit. Last season I had several Calliope Hummingbirds visit my feeder. They are typically seen in our mountains. The males are obvious with they long, streaky-looking gorget feathers.

Calliope Hummingbird in Duchesne County, UT
Male Calliope Hummingbird in Duchesne County, UT
The female Calliopes might be passed off for a more common hummingbird without careful attention to their short tails. Their wing tips reach just beyond the tail tip. They look slightly hunchbacked when perched and they have a thin white line of feathers from the top base of the bill to the eye. They also have a buffy color on the belly and sides.

Another easily overlooked variation of a common Utah Hummingbird is the green-backed Rufous. Probably 95% of Rufous Hummingbirds have a rufous back (see the image of the male about six images above). I had a green-backed Rufous claim my backyard feeder last fall for a week or so. These look much like an Allen's Hummingbird (common along the California coast), but the tail feathers just on each side of the central feathers is often the distinguishing factor between the two.

Male Rufous Hummingbird (green-backed variation) in Pleasant Grove, UT
Male Rufous Hummingbird (green-backed variation) in Pleasant Grove, UT
The image below shows the notch in the two feathers on either side of the central tail feathers that is typical for Rufous Hummingbird. Allen's Hummingbirds do not show this notch and otherwise look very similar to a green-backed Rufous Hummingbird.

I am so ready for some hummingbirds to visit my yard! Hang a feeder and watch for some visitors.


  1. These pictures are absolutely amazing!!!

    1. The wonder of these little birds, Jonathan. I'm amazed when I get a close look at all the detail that goes into these fast-flying machines.

  2. That is an awesomely fast shutter to catch humming bird wings like that. Sad to hear about your equipment.

    1. Having my equipment stolen was a shock to my system. I am glad to be up and running again thanks to a good homeowner insurance policy.