They’re here…..but they are just passing through.
While we know them as the Rufous Hummingbird, their scientific name is the Selasphorus rufus, and they are members of the Trochilidae family. They will live between 3 to 5 years. The smallest hummingbird, their size is about 3.75 inches and they weigh only about 3 grams.
At The Grand Hacienda B&B, we have five hummingbird feeders going strong – and are replacing the sugar water almost daily. Although the Rufous Hummingbirds are the smallest hummingbird in North America, their appetite seems to be endless. It has to be – because these small creatures have a long journey ahead of them – the longest migration path of any hummingbird.
Migrating from their breeding ground in eastern Alaska, the hummingbirds are passing through New Mexico as they make their way to Mexico where they will spend the winter. These long-distance migrants will travel some 4,000 miles to their winter destination, and we are blessed in Abiquiu to be located along their migration path.
Our other native birds aren’t so happy about the new visitors. The Rufous hummingbirds are aggressive, combative, belligerent, bossy, food hogs…they chase every other hummingbird and bird away from their food source and guard it relentlessly. When not feeding, they will sit on a nearby branch and just wait for another bird or hummingbird to come by – and then they attack. Hummingbird bullies who don’t know how to share.
They are defensive because, well, their journey requires a lot of energy and they need a 30% fat reserve to make the trip. Which means, they need a lot of sugar water.
But besides the negatives, watching these creatures is pure delight. They are fast and dart around from food source to food source. They eat nectar from plants, insects, spiders – and of course, sugar water from the feeders hanging around.
Out here, where we have no noise pollution, you can hear the buzz of their wings as they fly by. In fact, how fast they move their wings changes the pitch and loudness of their sounds. They make a high-pitched, buzzing and chipping sound which you will hear whenever another bird comes into their territory, or when they are diving for insects.
The males have a bright and brilliant orange coloring, while females are green and orange. When the light is right, the male Rufous gorget appears bright, fiery red! Their gorget – or throat feathers – dazzle iridescently. They are simply beautiful bullies.
The Rufous hummingbirds won’t be here long, however, so enjoy them while you can. They come in waves, and leave in waves. Come mid-September, they will be gone, making their way closer to Mexico.
Places to Stay in Abiquiu: www.TheGrandHacienda.com