Rufous-Hummingbird-919ar.jpg (16872 bytes) Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus, immature female, Lenoir Preserve, Yonkers, Westchester Co., NY, 4 November 2002.

 

All pictures were taken by my son Jay (I was on video detail, which doesn't add much to the story) and are Kevin and Jay McGowan.  They were taken with an Olympus D-40 digital camera through my Swarovski HD-80 spotting scope. 

Click on the images for a larger version.

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First seen on 29 October 2002, and reported by Mike Bochnik on 30 October, at the Lenoir Nature Preserve in Westchester Co., NY.  This is exactly the same place that an immature male Rufous Hummingbird showed up last year (see our web page for that bird).

Although it was suspected of being a Rufous Hummingbird, some things did not quite fit with that identification, and suggested Broad-tailed Hummingbird:   limited and rather pale rufous flanks, limited rufous in tail, lack of spotting in center of throat.  After close scrutiny (as explained below), and not with 100% certainty, I now think it was an immature female Rufous Hummingbird.  (Thanks go to all the folks who sent me comments on the species identification.)

Jay and I visited Lenoir on the rainy morning of 4 November 2002, and with the kind assistance of Tom Fiore (and his umbrella), we managed to find the bird and get a few decent pictures (despite the bad light).

Description from observations (i.e., what we noticed in the field):

Additional details from the photographs:

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Notice the pineapple sage pollen on the top of the bill.

The bird stretched and buzzed sometimes before taking flight.

 

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Note the extent of the rufous on the outermost tail feathers.  It is restricted to the basal half of the three outermost (r3-5), and appears to be only on the inner vane of r2. Note that the central tail feather (r1) is the same length of slightly longer than r2, and that r4 is markedly shorter than r3.

R2, just below the branch and with the tiny white tip, does not appear to be notched on the downside to me.  Does it to you?

 

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This view shows the whitish throat and chest, and the pale rufous undertail coverts.

This is the only flying shot that Jay got.  I got no video either.

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This shot shows the iridescent blue-green back, the lack of rufous in the rump, and that the central tail feather is longest.

Unfortunately blurry, this shot is our best one of the rump.

 

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This full throat-on view shows the single largish dark spot on the upper right region of the throat, the several larger spots along the gorget edge, and hints at the small speckles on the other throat feathers.

This shot of it scratching (over the wing!) shows off the small spots on the throat feathers.  It appears that the spots are central to each feather, perhaps being pigment in the rachis.

 

These enlargements are meant to show the fine spotting on the throat feathers.  The larger spots in the lower feathers are obvious enough, but look for the finer spotting on the upper feathers too. Humbird-Lenoir-814ae.jpg (25099 bytes)
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Comparing the tail pattern to that shown for Broad-tailed Hummingbird in Steve N. G. Howell's Hummingbirds of North America: A Photographic Guide (2001. Academic Press) suggests that this is a Rufous Hummingbird.   Specifically, the central rectrix (r1) should be shorter than r2 (not slightly longer as it appears on the Lenoir bird), and r3 and r4 should not be dramatically different in length.  In the Lenoir bird r4 seems about as different from r3 as it is from r5 (the outermost feather), typical of Rufous.  Here are a couple of comparison photos to illustrate the tail patterns.

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These pictures are of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird taken in Louisiana in December 1989 by Kenneth V. Rosenberg. Notice the central tail feathers a noticeably shorter than r2. Notice also that the inner two feathers that have white tips (r3 and r4) are roughly the same length (actually, r4 looks slightly longer), but longer than the outermost (r5). They do not give a stair-stepped effect.

 

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Here are two views of a Rufous Hummingbird specimen in the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates (CU5404;   immature male; collected in New Mexico, 10 August 1901). Notice the better fit to the Lenoir hummingbird:  the central rectrix is just about the same length as r2, and the white-tipped outer feathers are rather evenly stair-stepped.

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Revised: April 08, 2005.