Monday, November 3, 2008

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Glenda Simmons got a big halloween surprise when she spotted this beautiful Buff-bellied Hummingbird in her yard, only the 5th Tallahassee record. Congratulations Glenda!

Glenda writes....

I am very excited that the Buff-bellied Hummingbird that first appeared in my yard, Oct. 27, was banded, shortly after daylight, on Halloween. The day before, Fred Bassett with the Hummer Bird Study Group, arrived from Montgomery, Alabama, assisted by Fred Dietrich of Tallahassee to try to band it. This hummingbird, is not common to our area. It generally resides year round in Mexico and is common in southeast Texas in the lower Rio Grande Valley but some of them migrate along the Gulf coast. This is only the third Buff-bellied hummingbird to ever be banded in Tallahassee and Fred recalls two others being reported, that were not banded. On Oct. 30, at 4pm, they set up two traps, one on my front porch and one in the back yard. While fred and I were standing on the front porch, setting up, the hummer approached, paused and hovered a moment. We both froze and the hummer blasted off. Fred finished setting up and we moved out into the yard, Fred holding the trap door open with fishing line. Ten-twenty minutes later, the hummer reappeared and buzzed all around the trap, but did not fly in. He then went back to the Crape Myrtle tree that is next to the front porch feeder. He perched there and was very vocal, probably cussing us out, and thinking about what his next move would be. He did this another couple of times, then blasted off over the roof of the house. Fred yelled to the other Fred in the back, "COMING YOUR WAY" Fred D. saw the bird go to one of my hummer plants and then flew off, again, without giving that feeder a glance. We waited...and waited until almost dark, but the hummer did not return again. He obviously was finding some other nectar sources, close by. (The majority of my hummer plants were killed by our cold weather that week) Fred was not ready to give up, and they returned the next morning, before daylight and set up one trap in the front. (We took down the feeder in the back, so it would not be availabe) This time, he ran the fishline that holds open the trap door under my front door and we sat in the dark at my dinning room table, watching for the bird. It appeared within twenty minutes and did the same thing as the day before, almost as if it was giving us the finger, (or claw) and laughing in our face. But it was hungry and needing it's morning fix and finally flew in. Whew!! I got a Halloween treat that I will never forget This hummingbird is the largest hummingbird that we see in the east.
The first time, I saw it, I noticed it was a good bit larger than our Ruby-throated and when it flew in to the feeder, it's wings beating, gave it a much heavier sound. Fred determined it was a first year hatchling and was fairly certain it was a male. He says "The bird knows", and that's all that matters.

I did not see the hummer again that day...or the next day and was beginning to think that Fred really ruffled his tailfeathers, but this morning (Sun. Nov.2) he appeared again and I saw him off and on, all day. He is skittish and certainly does not like to pose for my camera. With any luck he will stick around for a while?? Time will tell. At any rate, I will be keeping my fingers crossed that he will return next winter.

Glenda Simmons

(The picture of me holding the hummer was taken by Fred Dietrich and I took the others)

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