Rare Fall Visitor: Rufous Hummingbirds

Many people take down their hummingbirds shortly after September, perhaps after not seeing a hummingbird around for a week. However, leaving your feeder up an extra two weeks somtimes brings great rewards. It isn't uncommon to host a few latecomers off and on into October. But even greater rewards somtimes await those choosing to leave up their feeders about a month longer than usual. Every year in Ohio, a few cases occur where a lucky Ohio resident gets to host a rare (for Ohio) Rufous Hummingbird at their feeders. These western hummingbirds are easily identified by their brown plumage, versus the native Ruby-Throated Hummingbird's green (and in the case of the male, red also) plumage.

   I have had the pleasure of seeing a Rufous Hummingbird twice. The first time was sevral summers ago, one stopped by to get a quick sip of nectar from the hosta plants beside my front porch. The second was in it's natural habitat last year in Wyoming. At the Bighorn National Forest welcome center, there was hummingbird feeder in a shrub infront of the center. Both Rufous and Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds were frequenting the feeder (unfortunately I have no pictures to show for it). In fact, just last year a Rufous Hummingbird visited (or so tried) to visit my hummingbird feeder the last weekend in October. I did not see the bird, but a relative who was at my house at the time was shocked to see a brown hummingbird hovering near my suet feeder, which had replaced my hummingbird feeder just sevral weeks before. After that experience, I now leave up my hummingbird feeders until mid October. Do the same, and you might just become one of the lucky birders that gets to see a rare Rufous Hummingbird.

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