Sunday, August 3, 2008


No, we have not suddenly acquired an expensive SUV. Rather, our beautiful Rufous Hummingbirds have returned from Mexico to perpetuate their species here in the White Mountains of Arizona. They arrive every year around July 15th. As can be seen in the photos posted here (taken by Raelene), the Rufous possesses exceptional physical charm. The male is distinguished by his holographic gorget, pronounced "gorjit." This is a bright patch of metallic color on his throat. It seems to change color from a fiery orange to a stunning green, depending on the angle of perception. The female Rufous lacks a gorget, but they have a sweeter, non-aggressive personality. The male is the most territorial bird I've ever seen. Though we hang four nectar feeders, it will claim possession of all of them, allowing none but their mate to have access to the sweet drink. It does not appreciate the concept of sharing. I take delight in watching their aerial dogfights with other males and with other varieties of hummingbirds. The male Rufous will dominate over every other species. He is quite selfish. He'll even buzz my head when I'm changing the nectar in the feeders. He will take a perch above the feeders and exercise the greatest vigilance, ever ready to swoop down on any trespasser. Other hummingbirds employ the strategy of distraction, sending one to the feeders to draw off the dominant male Rufous, and then flying in for a drink while he is chasing the decoy. It's a constant game.

1 comment:

Jenna Consolo said...

Great observation, Dad! I love that you are able to learn so much from watching your birds. The pics are incredible. Glad you posted...I hated those days of blog famine from you.