Rufous Hummingbirds

This gallery contains 4 photos. March 3, 2016, was the first time I saw the Rufous Hummingbirds return, and it was in my backyard. That’s almost a month ahead of schedule. They winter in Mexico, and spend their springs and summers (April through August) in Metro Vancouver, although the last locally recorded sighting in 2015 was of one straggler who stayed until October 31!

Rufous Hummingbirdsmy first closeup of a male Rufous hummingbird in 2016 (Iona Island on March 26)
f/8, 1/1250, 500mm, ISO 500

The adult male above was unerringly faithful to a handful of (almost eye-level) perches at Iona Island–returning every 30-45 seconds to his “territory”and holding a small number of photographers spellbound. We walked the length of the North Jetty (in a futile search for the male Mountain Bluebird), and returning to the same area an hour later, discovered that “Little Red” was still there.

Rufous Hummingbirdsgetting him to flash that gorget isn’t easy (Richmond Nature Park on April 4)
f/7.1, 1/1600, 500mm, ISO 800 

These feisty hummingbirds have an attitude that’s inversely proportional to their size. Rufouses are even smaller than the resident Anna’s hummingbirds, whom they’ll send packing while they take over the local nectar feeders and flowers. In fact, when Rufouses are here, the Anna’s get overshadowed. It seems like everything about the Rufouses (except for their size) is “larger than life.” The reddish-brown bodies and orange gorgets on the males do call attention to themselves, and even the reddish-brown and green-coloured females make Rufous females some of the more colourful (and easier to distinguish) hummingbird females.

you’ve got to stop and smell the flowers! (Richmond’s Terra Nova Park on Mar 27)
f/7.1, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 1250

The tail squeaks that accompany their courtship dives, and the scratchy metallic (“zinging”) sounds of Rufouses are easily distinguishable from those of Anna’s. The Rufouses are generally much bolder around humans — I have had the males fly to within five inches of my face, and the females feed from flowers, just 3 inches away from my face.

Rufous Hummingbirds
another little guy flashing me his gorget in the shade 
(Richmond Nature Park on April 4)
f/6.3, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 800

I have not had an opportunity to photograph a female Rufous this year (nor discover an active nest). According to their profile, these diminutive flyers may breed as far north as Alaska before returning to spend their winters in Mexico. That’s one long-distance flight for such a small bird! Rufous Hummingbirds are the only one of two species of hummingbirds that Metro Vancouver sees on a regular basis (the other being the resident Anna’s), although some lucky birders have been gifted with visits by Costa’s and Black-Chinned hummingbirds–species more likely to be found in the BC interior.



38 thoughts on “Rufous Hummingbirds

    • thanks! we seem to be in a lull of sorts for birds in Metro Vancouver. I’m not seeing as many Rufouses as in past years, and far smaller flocks of other bird species than in previous years. hope this changes soon!

      Liked by 1 person

    • me, too! it seems like they are REALLY late this year (in fact, many birds appear to be taking a holiday from their usual spring travels to Metro Vancouver lately!) I was ecstatic to see just ONE female Rufous hummingbird at Reifel yesterday, and my backyard has (hardly been) peppered with the visits of many birds lately!


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