Black-chinned Hummingbird – 2nd PA State Record!

With more and more winter hummingbirds reported each year throughout Pennsylvania, we have been breaking new records left and right. Last year about 100 winter hummingbirds were reported across the state, but only 49 of those were banded and most were Rufous Hummingbirds. Two Allen’s Hummingbirds, 1 Calliope Hummingbird, and the most insane of all – 1 Bahama Woodstar, were also banded. With that kind of assortment of hummingbirds, it is exciting to think about what was missed with those other 51 birds that were never captured to confirm their ID. Of course, some were photographed well and turned out to be Rufous Hummingbirds, but a lot went unknown or were never followed up on. One of the 51 that didn’t get banded, but luckily was very well photographed by the homeowners, was the state’s first-ever Black-chinned Hummingbird (a young male). Unfortunately, the hummingbird didn’t stick around for birders to chase it, so many of us were still waiting for the day when the state’s first chase-able Black-chinned would show up. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait too long….

This season, a little over 20 winter hummingbirds have been reported and hummingbird banders around the state have been able to capture, band, and confirm almost all of them. So far they have all turned out to be Rufous, although two birds have been re-captures (one from out of state and another from the same yard it was banded in last year) which is very interesting! Then came the big news – Franklin County birder, and friend of mine, Dale Gearhart (who’s yard hosted the state’s first Lesser Goldfinch in 2012) noticed a hummingbird visiting his feeders at the beginning of November. A few days ago, Dale was able to get closer looks and a few photos, and noticed something was a little odd about the bird. It didn’t quite fit with male Ruby-throated, not to mention it was getting very late for a Ruby-throat to be around. Sandy Lockerman, one of the state’s hummingbird banders, took a trip down on the 13th and was quickly able to capture the bird and confirm the 2nd state record for Black-chinned! This time a stunning adult male! The best part is, Dale is more than willing to let as many birders come see it as the hummingbird allows, and the bird is also very cooperative!

Black-chinned Hummingbird (iPhone-scoped photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Black-chinned Hummingbird (iPhone-scoped photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

As soon as Sandy posted to the PA listserve yesterday around noon, I texted the other State College birders and got a car full of folks organized to chase the hummingbird. A little before 4pm, we pulled into Dale’s driveway and almost as soon as we got out of the car, the Black-chinned flew in and fed from the feeder and then perched in a tree nearby. During the next hour we were able to watch the hummingbird as it flew in to feeder many times. The bird’s longer, slightly drooped bill and blunt-tipped and swept-back primaries gave it a slightly larger and longer appearance than the typical Ruby-throat, but the bird’s stunning black hood which would occasionally flash purple or green was the dead give-away.

Below are some short clips I took of the hummingbird, using my iPhone 4S and a Vortex Razor HD spotting scope.

Like I mentioned above, Dale is more than willing to allow other birders to visit. Please check the PA Birds listserve for Dale’s address and other up-to-date information about the hummingbird. Good luck to any birders that chase this beautiful hummingbird, and I hope it sticks around! Also, if you don’t have a hummingbird feeder out – get one out, get two out, get your neighbors and friends to put one out….let’s get some more rare hummingbirds!!