Another Pretty Bird

Blue-throatedHummingbird_Female_01-Sipping_nectar.JPGI have a bunch of plants on my porch, mostly ferns, but also some flowers. One of these has really tiny flowers that I thought would be pollinated by small insects – not bigger than a honeybee. So, I was really surprised to see a hummingbird come and sip nectar out of it. Moreover, it is a huge hummingbird! OK, not as big as a stork, but huge for a hummingbird, bigger than any hummingbird I’ve seen before.
The bird is coming every day. It is noisy like a bumblebee. It looks at me and, as long as I do not move, it goes on and feeds, only 3-4 feet away from my face.
My daugher an I looked it up in Paterson – nothing there. We checked Sibley and it looks like a Blue-throated Hummingbird – a female. But the Sibley map does not show North Carolina as the place where this species is supposed to be found. It does have a single dot in southern South Carolina, though.
So, either I misidentified the species, in which case – what is it?
Or, Blue-throated hummingbird is normally found in North Carolina but Sibley does not register that.
Or, this is a strange individual lost in North Carolina.
Or, the species is slowly moving north in its geographical distribution due to global warming.
Which is it?

11 responses to “Another Pretty Bird

  1. That photo sure looks like a female Blue-throated to me, although female hummingbirds can be pretty tough to identify. She’s a long way from home!
    I’m pretty sure that the Ruby-throated is the only hummingbird that breeds in eastern North America so you’ve got yourself a vagrant.
    North Carolina would be a pretty dramatic range expansion to attribute to climate change. We’re talking a thousands of kilometers from southern Texas. I’d probably hold out for multiple breeding pairs before fingering global warming. Then again, maybe you’ve got a Nature paper hovering over your porch.

  2. Female ruby-throated hummingbirds tend to have smaller and less prominent white patches behind their eyes. The overall grayish neck and undersides also suggests blue-throated rather than ruby-throated. A blue-throated hummingbird would probably be a vagrant. Many western species wander off course in the fall and end up visiting gardens and feeders along the East Coast.
    If you think that the bird is a blue-throated hummingbird, it might be worth contacting a local hummingbird bander to check it out and establish a record. The folks at Hilton Pond might be interested.

  3. An amazingly beautiful photo.

  4. Man, Coturnix, I’m impressed that you noticed an anomolous hummingbird, female no less. Most folks on the East Coast would just assume ruby-throat and walk away.

  5. Abbie Herrick

    I think I saw that same kind of hummingbird in New Hampshire! I was out in the back yard this morning when I heard this loud “thrumming” sound. I thought it was some giant bug. But then I saw this giant blug-gray humming bird at my feeder. Like the one in the story, it didn’t mind that I was close to it. It just drank from the feeder and flew away. I’m going to try to get a picture of it.

  6. Just wondering if you happen to know what type of flower that is. I’ve been trying to find out what the name of them are.

  7. I have no idea…. sorry!

  8. It’s a female Blue-throat, and there have been sightings in both Carolinas before.

  9. Aurgh!!! Sorry, I’m actually painting a Blue-throat as part of a job this evening, and I’ve got them on the brain. It’s a female Magnificent Hummingbird. Again, they’ve been seen in Carolina once or twice before.

  10. Randall Moore

    Did you take that picture or is just for illustrative purposes? I just wondered ’cause A) it’s a professional quality photo and those are really hard to get for hummingbirds, and B) it looks like it’s feeding on an Arizona penstemon which would make perfect sense if the photo were taken in the bird’s normal range. If you did take it, nice photo!
    Its head is much more blue-throated HB than mag. HB, but the real kicker is the amount of white in the tail tips (lots in BT, only a little in mag.) which isn’t discernible in the photo. If somebody forced me, I’d say blue-throated.

  11. No, I did not take the picture, I found one to illustrate the post.