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Rufous Hummingbird
November 29, 2010 6:02 AM   Subscribe

The Rufous Hummingbird measures only 4-inches, but it can pack a lot of beauty into that small package. Often described as "feisty," it weighs just a little more than a penny. With a migratory range of 1500 km, the Rufous has the longest known avian migration proportional to its size.
posted by alms (31 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Via Book of Joe.
posted by alms at 6:04 AM on November 29, 2010


Beautiful! The thing that always surprises me about hummingbirds is that, seen at proper magnification, their feathers are so obviously feathers. Because when I see them in real life, I can't stop thinking they're scales.
posted by bovious at 6:11 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Love hummingbirds!
My parents had a small cabin in southern Indiana. It was on a lake and surrounded by woods. My mom hung hummingbird feeders all over the place, and it was a like a drive-in on a Saturday night, with so many hummers flying in for the feeders. They were Ruby-throateds, of course, and not Rufous.

I discovered two things about the little guys...1.) They do, actually, land and sit on branches (something I had been told since childhood that they never, ever do), and 2.) They chirp. Mostly, it seemed, when dive-bombing each other.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:19 AM on November 29, 2010


Wow, I love these. Exquisite photography... those shots of the birds bathing are unbelievable. What's not to love about hummingbirds? Every summer we watch them dogfighting over rights to our feeders; their fierceness and aerobatic maneuvers are astonishing in such wee tiny beasts. These are the best hummer shots I've ever seen--so much personality!

Thanks so much for posting this... made my Monday morning.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:23 AM on November 29, 2010


Those photos are spectacular.

We've got Anna's hummingbirds in our backyard. They are wicked territorial. Starting in about January, all the males that take up residence in the backyards on our block will...negotiate who gets which yard. Better than TV!
posted by rtha at 6:31 AM on November 29, 2010


I really like watching hummingbirds, but I will also say I am infinitely glad they are as small as they are. They really can be vicious little buggers and the thought of even say a crow sized hummingbird would be frightening.
posted by edgeways at 6:35 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you want to see literally thousands of rufouses and several other species, get your bird watching self over to Rockport, Texas next September.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:36 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK. Alright. Damn. Those are some cute-ass birdies.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:37 AM on November 29, 2010


(first link is all broken links for me unless I manually "View Image". Might just be me and my weird DNS. Sweet little boids, tho'.)
posted by scruss at 6:42 AM on November 29, 2010


How much would a crow sized hummingbird even eat?

Unless it ate gasoline or something it would need to eat constantly.
posted by Bonzai at 6:42 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


So now we're talking about a hummingbird the size of a crow that eats gasoline and shits fire.

For starters, you'd have to upgrade your window screens to chicken wire. And crows are smart, so you need to make sure you have locking fuel caps everywhere. But you might as well learn how to say "Yes, my corvid master, your wish is my command" in crow caw language if you wanted to keep your eyes.
posted by pracowity at 6:59 AM on November 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


It's always such a pleasure to see hummingbirds around the yard. Even after decades of seeing them,they are still rare enough that my first reaction is always "Damn, that's a big bug."
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:06 AM on November 29, 2010


Does anyone know what's going on in picture #11 (scroll down, there are no anchors)? Do hummingbirds have two-part hinged tongues?
posted by alms at 7:16 AM on November 29, 2010


Amazing work. LOVE the one where the bird is drinking from the hose.

That signature though, with the straight descenders and loopy ascenders, is driving me nuts.
posted by circular at 7:26 AM on November 29, 2010


But you might as well learn how to say "Yes, my corvid master, your wish is my command" in crow caw language if you wanted to keep your eyes.

It's pronounced Caw Caaaaw caw caw caw CAW caw-caw-caw caw CAW caw.....caw CHAW.


Been practicing for this day for soooo long
posted by lalochezia at 7:34 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know what's going on in picture #11 (scroll down, there are no anchors)? Do hummingbirds have two-part hinged tongues?

I was thinking it's either a leave or a bug's leg. It seems too long to be the tongue. But I could be totally wrong...
posted by fantodstic at 7:43 AM on November 29, 2010


I wish we had the Rufous here, but they stick to the higher elevations. Sis has them in her yard during the summer, and they're the street punks of the sugar-fueled hummingbird culture. Not that we can complain, as we have several different species at our feeders year-round. (Tucson, in addition to its warm climate, is also right near a major hummingbird migration corridor.) It was 30 degrees when I woke up this morning, and I took down both feeders to clean and refill them. One showed up right after I took them down and hovered by the empty hanger until I reappeared with a full feeder. Cheap entertainment.
posted by azpenguin at 7:50 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't look at those pictures without hearing their little SQUEAKITA-SQUEAKITA-SQUEAKITA shrieks of teeny tiny rage.

There are so many rufous hummingbirds where I live that I've had to give up setting out feeders in self-defense. I was filling them every day, and having to hose poops off my porch every week. They may be tiny poops, but damn, they add up.
posted by ErikaB at 7:51 AM on November 29, 2010


Hummingbird tongues are really long. Since they necessarily need to snake down flower tubes and such, I bet they can hinge or twist as well.

Great pictures!
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:52 AM on November 29, 2010


I can't look at those pictures without hearing their little SQUEAKITA-SQUEAKITA-SQUEAKITA shrieks of teeny tiny rage.

I thought the same thing. And as we should all be well aware, this is all cute and sweet until some innocent bystander loses an eye.

Seriously though, nice pics.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:58 AM on November 29, 2010


My eyes!
posted by lalochezia at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


My eyes!

80 bucks? I'll need to talk to my wife first.
posted by uraniumwilly at 8:24 AM on November 29, 2010


A million years ago, a bird looked at bees and said: I want to be that. Hence, hummingbirds.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 8:30 AM on November 29, 2010


> A million years ago, a bird looked at bees and said: I want to be that. Hence, hummingbirds.

30 million years, at least! Also, the theory, as currently posited, is that they co-evolved with certain kinds of flowers.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 AM on November 29, 2010


These things sure are feisty! We had several living on my college campus. I was working for grounds keeping, mostly in our beautiful botanical garden. One day during the summer I spied two of them chasing each other all over the garden. Not sure if they were mating or fighting. Well, when I leaned over later to water some pumpkin plants the hummingbirds flew right up to me and started chasing each other around me! I stood super still and they just went round and round! At the end of it all, one of them paused right in front of my face and looked at me for a moment before shooting off. It was truly a magical moment. Hummingbirds are amazing!
posted by delicate_dahlias at 8:44 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Y'know who else packs a lot of beauty into a small four-inch package?

I have a very understanding girlfriend.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 8:55 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do hummingbirds have two-part hinged tongues?

Oddly, Cracked had a photo on this subject just today. Hummingbird tongues are complicated.

My primary area of photography up until this point has been birds, and while I've been mostly successful, hummingbirds have been one of the subjects that I've almost universally failed at. 1.) because they are fast as fuck and 2.) because whenever I get a good shot lined up, I'm invariably distracted by their comically aggressive territoriality and I spend the afternoon just watching them flit about trying to scare one another off, and not actually taking any pictures.
posted by quin at 10:05 AM on November 29, 2010


A hummingbird loses 10% of its body weight overnight? I am so going on the sugar-water-and-hovering diet.
posted by memewit at 10:06 AM on November 29, 2010


oh hey, they really have got creepy tongues! But those pictures are spectacular, so cute-ums!
posted by Treefood at 10:19 AM on November 29, 2010


Love those pics! Thanks for the post alms. Ah, those alluring miniature flying gems. Hummingbirds are so awesome. Obligatory posting of Rescued Baby Hummingbird for anybody who hasn't already seen this tender heart-warmer.

Last year at the end of summer the window next to my computer was open. All of a sudden I heard an odd electronic sounding cheep-squeak and thought for a moment there was a mouse somewhere near at hand. I turned my head and there by the window boxes on the fire escape was a hummingbird drinking at the flowers. It was tawny, iridescent green and brown. I sat there motionless, thrilled. After flitting away it returned for a second round of sipping. Immediately googled that it was a vagrant Roufous. The next day it returned, cheeping, around the same time.

I never saw it again and will never forget being visited by a real life Tinkerbell, magic right here in the funky skyscraper canyons of Hell's Kitchen, NYC.
posted by nickyskye at 1:10 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I once heard a ornithologist interviewed on NPR who said, "If hummingbirds could speak, about 90% of what they say would be expletives. Maybe 95%."
posted by Lexica at 8:15 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


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