Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hummingbirds Out, Hummingbirds In

I have gotten some questions recently about the movements of hummingbirds through our area. For the most part, the bulk of the ruby-throated hummingbirds have passed through the mountains and piedmont of North Carolina by now. There will be a few stragglers from now through the end of October, but watch as their numbers gradually dwindle with each passing day. Really, by mid-October they are almost all gone.

But that doesn’t mean that hummingbird action is over for 2016. To the contrary, the most exciting time to look for and attract hummingbirds is from now through the end of the year.
Notice I mentioned the ruby-throated hummingbirds will be gone by the end of October. But there are other species that will come into the Carolinas in varying numbers by species. Case in point, right now there is a buff-bellied hummingbird in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. That bird is only the second confirmed record of the species from North Carolina. Buff-bellied hummingbirds regularly occur in the United States in extreme southern Texas. The species will winter along the Gulf Coast in small numbers, with an extremely rare individual occasionally overshooting into neighboring states and regions.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

At times of high bird movement; spring and fall migrations especially; there is an increased chance of a rarity being discovered. So, will you attract a mega-rarity hummingbird this fall? Almost certainly not. But you definitely should start taking a close look at any hummingbirds that are still hanging around or arrive in the next several weeks.

Your chances of attracting a less-rare species of hummingbird are increasing with every week however. Rufous hummingbirds will be arriving soon and some individuals will spend the entire winter right here in Mecklenburg County. Some of them are probably already here, blending in with the remaining ruby-throateds. So again, look closely at any remaining hummingbirds and note any differences from what you normally see. And try your best to get a photo to send to me if you think you see something different.

I will write more about wintering hummingbirds in a few weeks, but in light of the buff-bellied hummer in Winston-Salem I thought it might be worthwhile to remind everyone to keep a close eye on the feeders.    


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