Rufous Hummingbird Pocket Journal

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Model: PJ-61
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Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)

Rufous hummingbirds are probably the most hardy of all of the hummingbird species that nest in the U.S. and Canada.  These hummers breed from Alaska south through British Columbia and southwestern Alberta.  They winter mainly in Mexico although some winter along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Louisiana; they have been recorded in all of the eastern states and provinces as far north as Nova Scotia with most sightings in November and December.  The male of this species has bright rufous upper parts and flanks and an orange-red throat, while the female is green above with a rufous tinge on her rump and flanks.

Rufous hummingbirds are notoriously pugnacious with adult males generally dominating.  Males arrive on northern breeding grounds several weeks before females.  They show a strong tendency to return to the same breeding site.  When females arrive, the males begin their distinctive aerial displays.  As the female perches quietly below, the male ascends with his back to her.  The male flies in a series of slanting ovals broader at the bottom than the top.  When he reaches the top of his flight he turns and shows off his scarlet throat feathers, or gorget.  He then goes into a steep dive, swooping upward at the bottom to within inches of the attentive female.  These birds build their cup-like nests from down, moss and bark, decorated with flakes of lichen.  Although they defend feeding and nesting territories, rufous hummingbirds sometimes nest as close together as a few yards, up to 20 nests may be in a small area.

Hummingbirds are teachers of joyful living.

artwork by Irene Brady

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