Hawks Aloft Inc.
PO Box 10028
Albuquerque, NM 87184
Phone: 505 828-9455
Fax: 505 828-9769
E-Mail: gail@hawksaloft.org

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Hawks Aloft Blog

Happy Fourth of July!!!

The Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our American Independence, but bird lovers in New Mexico also celebrate another event that typically happens right around the beginning of July. Rufous Hummingbirds start to pass through on their fall migration!

Rufous Male - Photo by David Powell

Rufous Male – Photo by David Powell

The male Rufous Hummingbirds have a bright orange, iridescent gorget  and rufous-red head and back. They are the feistiest hummingbirds you will see at your feeders. They guard the feeders tenaciously against other, often larger hummingbirds that need a little drink.

Rufous Male - Photo by David Powell

Rufous Male – Photo by David Powell

Typically the first Rufous Hummingbirds we see are the males, and later in July and in August we see the females and first years. The males are free to migrate home first, because they contribute very little to the process of raising babies; in fact they are just sperm donors. The female does all the hard work of building her nest and raising the babies.

Rufous Female - Photo by David Powell

Rufous Female – Photo by David Powell

David Powell captured this female hummingbird sitting on her nest in Albuquerque, NM. A major component of a hummingbird nest is spider silk. This allows the nest to grow along with the nestlings.

Nesting hummingbird - Photo by David Powell

Nesting hummingbird – Photo by David Powell

Rufous Hummingbirds breed further north than any other hummingbird, and are seen as far north as Alaska. In fact I saw a beautiful male Rufous Hummingbird in early June of this year in Halibut Cove, Alaska.

Juvenile Rufous-Hummingbird - Photo by Doug Brown

Juvenile Rufous-Hummingbird – Photo by Doug Brown

Rufous-Hummingbird - Photo by Doug Brown

Rufous-Hummingbird – Photo by Doug Brown

Like other hummingbirds, they eat insects as well as nectar, taking them from spider webs or catching them in midair.

Rufous-Hummingbird - Photo by Doug Brown

Rufous-Hummingbird – Photo by Doug Brown

Rufous Hummingbirds are also unusual in that their spring migration follows a route along the Pacific coast while their fall migration goes through the Rocky Mountains and right through Albuquerque.

Rufous-Hummingbird - Photo by Doug Brown

Rufous-Hummingbird – Photo by Doug Brown

3 Responses to “Happy Fourth of July!!!”

  1. Dylan Finneran says:

    I just saw a rufous humming bird today, November 27th, in Vista, California!

    Is this normal? You said spring migration is along the pacific coast.

    • hai-admin says:

      What a great sighting! Hummingbird movements have changed in response to climate change and also the use of hummingbird feeders by bird-loving citizens. In some cases, hummingbirds in the eastern United States are no longer migrating over the Gulf of Mexico, but spending the winter in our southern states. The same could be true in California. In New Mexico, where we are based, a small number of hummies are overwintering, thanks to the support of feeders.

  2. VAL OTTO says:

    AUGUST 1 2017 I HAVE A MALE RUFOUS GUARDING ONE OF THE FEEDERS JUST SOUTH OF BELEN NM.

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