Just as the last Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are beginning to make their way south for the winter, Rufous Hummingbirds and other rare western hummingbirds are beginning to show up at lucky homeowner’s feeders and well-planted backyards. With many scattered reports around the northeast so far this fall, Delaware birders like myself were anxiously awaiting a rare hummingbird to turn up in our small state. On October 11th, much earlier than I anticipated, the first Selasphorus hummer was spotted in Brian McCaffrey’s beautiful backyard! Tim Shreckengost, Ian Gardner, and I raced up to Camden-Wyoming to see the bird for ourselves. After a few minutes of waiting and watching in the drizzling rain, the hummer shot in out of nowhere and perched at the top of a bush and looked around. During our visit the hummingbird dashed around the yard many times, often perching rather close for extended views, stretching it’s wings and tail as if to show off and allow us the opportunity to attempt to get a definitive ID of the bird. Based on it’s molt, gorget pattern, and coloration we knew it was an adult female Selasphorus; and either a Rufous or Allen’s. Based on how broad the outer tail feathers are, we feel pretty confident calling this a Rufous Hummingbird.
Thanks again to Brian for letting us invade his home and yard for a few hours the other day! This is actually Brian’s third Rufous Hummingbird in the last three years – clearly going to show how much these winter hummingbirds love backyards with a nice garden and a variety of food sources.