Sunday, March 05, 2006

Colorful Las Vegas visitors

My weekend was spent peering out the back door. That's where the hummingbird feeder is. Now, I was surprised back in January when the hummingbirds started coming back to Las Vegas. Silly things should have stayed in Mexico! However, I got used to the black-chinned hummingbirds pretty quickly. I'd seen them all last summer, so it was nice that they remembered me and came back.

But now there are newcomers. I came home a little bit earlier than usual one afternoon last week and got a good look at something that was decidedly not a black-chinned hummingbird. This male had color all over its head, not just a little dark purple band under his chin. My impression was that his whole head was bright rose. An Anna's hummingbird, perhaps? Well, I still don't know! I spent the weekend standing at the patio door with a camera on a tripod, trying to get a picture of that colorful male. I never saw him again. In fact, I never saw a male black-chinned hummingbird this weekend. The girls have run off the boys!

Well, no, that's not exactly true. I haven't seen the boys at the feeder, but I had the thrill of watching a male hummingbird display in my very own backyard! Yes, a male flasher on my patio! A female was perched in the bush just behind my patio, and I saw a streak plummet down in front of her, swoop in a sharp arc at the bottom of his dive, and zip straight back up. At the same time, I heard a loud "Chrip!" at the bottom of the arc, followed by several "chip, chip, chip, chip" squeaks as he climbed back toward the sky. I was sitting on the patio, so I couldn't see how high he went, but a few seconds later he repeated the performance. Wow! I don't know about his girl perched in the bush, but I know I was quite impressed with his avian studliness.

The two pictures at the top of this post were taken on Saturday. I don't know what type of female hummingbird this is -- all the females are green and white. I do like these pictures, though. The close-up of her head even shows pollen on her beak, and you can see her little tongue sticking out at the end of her beak as if she's saying "Nyeah! I dare you to figure out what kind of hummingbird I am!"

On Sunday I saw another female at the feeder, but this girl was different. She had dark feathers under her chin. Logic would say this must be a black-chinned hummingbird, but I don't think those females have black chins. Do Costa's females have dark chins? I need a hummingbird expert to tell me what I've got here! To be honest, though, I don't really care. I'm just glad they're here! I hope they stay all summer.

Oh, and a weather report -- spring is almost here!


At 3/07/2006 7:05 PM, Blogger Gwyn said...

Your sister Bay sent me here to look at your photos. I'm insanely jealous, you have no idea how LONG I've tried to get decent photos of these buggers!

Since I'm east of the Mississippi, I can only ID the Ruby Throats. The females are always maddeningly dull.

But I'm insanely jealous of these photos!


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