There is no denying that ID'ing a hummingbird can be difficult. This challenge for me has led me to some incredible discoveries along the way. Today it's about recognizing the details and also about 2 groups of people that made me smile while I sat observing.
Today's focus is on the Juvenile hummer and more specifically...the Broad-billed hummingbird. Madera canyon is full of them. We've been tracking the young ones since they've been in their nests....and now....they are in their "teenage" years. An interesting thought happened during this shoot and one that would be discussed further during my search for the Plain-capped Starthroat.
|Juvenile Male Broad-billed Hummingbird|
As you can see, each juvenile male develops differently. This is a sibling from the same nest. But what got my blood boiling was what this kid said afterwards. "We come from California and see 8 hummingbirds in one sitting! I was talking to this old guy who lives here and he only now just saw 2 for the first time in life! Ha, we know the spots man. We know the spots." He was indeed correct as he did know one our hummingbird spots here at Madera Canyon. But as I listened to him, he was actually listing off females, juveniles, and several of the males from 3 of the species. 8!!! Why we could only be so lucky:)! What he actually observed during our time together were the Black-chinned, Broad-billed and Magnificent Hummingbirds:) The young guy was antsy for a walk and so he went to get ready for their hike. The friends then looked at me and asked, "How many did we really see?" And I smiled.
The two other guys were fun and quite interesting. Their mother was with them and she had a plethora of information. They were on a trek to find snakes and other reptiles!!! The sad part is that I know where they hang out. What's even sadder is that I don't actively search for them because they creep me out. I helped the guys plot out their mission for maximum snake discovery. And they weren't the only ones looking for snakes! I've come across groups of people searching for them. One man asked on a hike, "Birder" or "Snake lover". Fascinating. Don't get me wrong, snakes are wonderful....just not my thing.
So the topic came up between birders, "Have you ever....?" You see, that's the best part about hummingbird observations. It's the people. Some of the topics that come up are the most interesting and I think I come back smarter from these sessions at coffee shops or in the middle of a random forest somewhere. The hummingbird experience is a different one from other birding outings. An older birder told me, "Sometimes when we look for "that bird" so much, we begin to believe we've found it and make it in our minds "that bird".....even though it's not." Wow! I thought it was just me. And it was just another case of a birder who made my day. And so while this juvenile wasn't the Blue-throat, it did have a blue throat......and one that had a valuable lesson attached with the experience.
The other group that came weren't so knowledgeable. In fact, I'm not sure what they were doing there. Instead of watching hummingbirds, they were killing ants. Wait....not killing them....torturing them! I thought to myself, "Are these people for real?" Yes, they're out there en masse. So I just stayed focused on my observations. You never know who will be coming to these little sessions.
I drank much water this morning just so that I could get a glimpse of some new hummer, but alas nada. But I'm finding that this isn't what the experience is completely about(although it would be nice). It's about finding the patience and looking at the details. Today I can look at a Female Hummer and ID right away. Before it all, I thought it didn't matter.....but it does. And when I am finished, if I finish, I will be one savvy hummer expert. Well that's my hope:) Like these juveniles, I'm learning and developing those adult feathers. More tomorrow....