Rufous Hummingbird – Shining Jewel Of The Sky

by Larry on March 10, 2008


Jedi Hummers
Jedi Hummers photo by Lisa Williams

I have been waiting a long time to post this photo by Lisa. Any of you who are familiar with hummingbirds know how tough it must have been to capture this photograph! This is a photo of a Rufous Hummingbird defending his feeder from a Black-chinned Hummingbird looking for an easy meal. You can see all of Lisa’s photos at Arizona Birder.

Well, spring has arrived in northern California. We saw our first Rufous Hummingbird at the feeder yesterday. The male Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) will aggressively defend feeding locations in his territory as you can see from the above photo.

The Rufous Hummingbird also has the longest migration route of all the hummers traveling well over 3000 miles from Mexico and possibly Panama north to Alaska. As a matter of fact the Rufous Hummingbird breeds farther north than any other species of hummingbird in the world.

Rufous Hummingbird at You

Male Rufous Comin’ At Ya photo by Walter Ammann

This beautiful male bird has a rufous face, upperparts, flanks and tail and a striking iridescent orange-red gorget (pronounced gawr-jit) that contrasts with his bright white breast. The female of the species has green upperparts, white underparts, some iridescent orange feathers in the center of her throat, and a dark tail with white tips and a rufous base.

The Rufous Hummingbird breeds in open areas and forest edges in western North America from Alaska to California. The female will build a nest at the point where two branches form a V in a protected location in a shrub or conifer and the male may mate with several females.

These tiny jewels of the sky, like their counterparts, feed on nectar from flowers using a long, extendable tongue and catch insects on the wing. They are active during the day and become torpid at night, being able to tolerate temperatures well below freezing. See my post here on Hummingbirds In A State Of Torpor

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