Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

This blog has led a dormant, almost moribund existence recently. This is about to change. The last two-and-a-half months I had to write another blog for Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, and frankly that blog stole this blog's thunder.

But my field season at Whitefish is over, I'm in New York at the time of writing, and will be off to Central America once again tomorrow.

So... building a bridge between cold and windy northern Michigan and tropical Nicaragua, here's a post with some flight shots of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird from Whitefish Point. All these shots emphasize the bird's back. As a non-birding friend recently remarked, the green iridescence on the hummer's back is just as beautiful if not more so than the gaudy color on the male's gorget.

One of the things that come out in these shots is the variation in posture between just hanging still in the air, less than a feet from the feeder just outside the picture, and a sudden position change or movement.

I mentioned on the other blog that Chaffinches had appeared at Whitefish Point. The Chaffinch, a common European finch, is sometimes kept as a cage bird in the US. Possibly someone is releasing these birds into the wild, because at some point as many as eight Chaffinches were present on Whitefish Point recently. Their song, flight call and contact call became a common thing to hear around the Point.

Most American birders were puzzled by these sounds. To my European ears, those Chaffinch songs sounded like the Platonic ideal of Chaffinch-ness, but US birders said it sounded "wren-like". I tried listening to it that way - as some kind of odd wren - but failed utterly. No - that song sounded like the Chaffinch, and nothing else.

Soon, I'll be back in Laguna de Apoyo (Nicaragua), to do a butterfly inventory of that area. Expect posts on tropical butterflies here.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Yep, for many years, whenever I heard a Chaffinch in a movie supposedly set in Europe, I would scoff and mention that they were using tape of a House Wren. Then I went to the UK and heard House Wrens there. Whoops.