Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Hummingbird Crossing

Trapped by the heat of summer and covid, I carefully plan my outings.  There are some really amazing birds that show up around town during this time of year.  Migration starts picking up. 

Shorebirds, hummingbirds and warblers are just a few of the amazing birds that pass through Arizona this time of year. Often, I give myself 20 minutes for a rare bird in this heat.  Shorebirds and water birds can be done from the car.  And hummingbirds?  Well, they can be done under the shade of a tree. 

The best time of year to visit Southeastern Arizona for hummingbirds is during the months of August and September.  Some hummingbirds are nesting while others are trying to get back to their wintering grounds. The arrival of some species like the Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds are signals that the end of summer is near.  

Right now, Rufous Hummingbirds are in great numbers as they push their way down south.  These hummers breed all the way up in Alaska. The males are the first to migrate in July followed by the juveniles and females. 

Some hummingbirds like the Violet-crowned Hummingbird(below) are working on their 3rd nest for the summer.  This southeastern Arizona specialty makes a lovely nest using lichen. 

Anna's Hummingbirds rule the land.  These year round locals zip in and out of all the hummingbird action around the feeders. Eventually, they'll have the feeders alone again.  But right now it's competition for the nectar. 

Birders go crazy for the next specialty, the White-eared Hummingbird.  We have a few breeding birds here in southeastern Arizona.  There aren't many as this is the northern most range for this species, but they get birders excited.  Soon, they will be heading home. 

This male Anna's Hummingbird(below) watches the incredible flurry of activity between feeders.  He carefully calculates how he'll get to a feeder without being chased off by a Rufous Hummingbird. 

Another hummingbird that birders want to see is the Lucifer Hummingbird.  This time of year is a great time to visit.  They all like to congregate around the feeders together.  

The Black-chinned Hummingbirds make their move back to their wintering grounds. 

This female Lucifer Hummingbird has finished nesting.  She competes with her offspring for the nectar. 

Because it's so hot this time of year, I find watching hummingbirds a much better option.  You can do it high up in the mountains like Summerhaven.  Or at any place with feeders.  It's pretty exciting to see how many species of hummers will show up.  On our day out, we had TEN species! Some of the best places to observe all these hummingbirds are in Portal, the Huachuca, Catalina and Santa Rita mountains. Places like the Santa Rita Lodge, Beatty's and Ash Canyon are definitely places to check out. 

Sometimes you don't have to go far.  Here is a nest from my garden.  The female Broad-billed Hummingbird is on her last nest for the season.  

She builds a tea cup sized nest. 

Only 2 eggs fit in this tiny nest.  It takes about 14 days for the eggs to hatch. 

Then it takes another 15 days for the hummingbirds to fledge. 

She positions herself in different ways.  When she sits on the eggs, the Broad-billed female sits higher up.  When they hatch, she sits lower inside the nest.  Right now, the babies are TINY.  

Random birds show up.  Often while I'm working.  And even though I'm online now, it doesn't mean I can just go!  I'm at work looking at people via a webcam monitor.  During this time of year, I think about all the amazing birding happening in the state of Arizona.  I hope for cooler temps.  And I hope that there will be a vaccine by the end of the year.  I watch our hummingbirds head back home and I think about their exciting journeys to Mexico, Central and South America. And I also think about how fortunate I am to live in such an amazing place for birds like Arizona.  Until next time.....