Dry Creek Hill

Sunday Photos: Christmas Hummingbird

This gal stayed in the Texas Hill Country with us after all her friends left for the winter. At first we weren’t sure if we were seeing migrating stragglers passing through or if one hummer was staying. We’re sure we have one over-wintering female now because she visits the feeder at the same times every day. She takes a long rest each time, eating and just hanging out. I expect she enjoys not being chased away by summer crowds buzzing the feeders.

Enjoying a Christmas breakfast.
It’s hard to break the habit of scanning for intruders, event if you’re the only hummer in town.

As you can see, she’s fluffed out for warmth. I keep one filled feeder at the ready as a replacement for a frozen feeder on cold mornings. It got down to 25 here Christmas morning and the feeder froze to an icy slush. Our gal showed up at the fresh feeder immediately after I hung my replacement.

We’ve been back in the Hill Country and San Antonio area for 20 years now and this is our third winter hummingbird. One was clearly a Rufous Hummingbird and the other two (including this one) were tougher to identify. It’s hard to tell with female birds, but I’m betting this is a female Rufous. She has a touch of Rufous plumage in the right places and Rufous Hummingbirds seem to be the most likely candidates for wintering around here, according to Audubon.

We see a lot of Black-Chins and some Ruby-Throats in the warmer months, but they are unlikely to over-winter.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Photos: Christmas Hummingbird

  1. shoreacres

    What nice images. I had a feeder up this year, but had only a few birds, and after they’d been gone for a couple of weeks, I took it down.

    The coots that overwinter here usually disappear in spring, but there’s always one or two that hang around. For two years, there’s been a single one staying through the summer in the marina where I do most of my work. I’ve wondered if it’s injured and unable to fly, but there aren’t any indications of that; it’s plump and well-fed, and seemingly content. Who knows the mind of a bird?

    1. Charles Prokop Post author

      We hang 3 feeders every year – 2 on the front deck and one on a pulley system in back. The deck feeders come in when we’ve gone a week or so in the fall without seeing a bird, but we leave the back one up longer for migrating stragglers. It usually comes in a few weeks after the front feeders came in, but this year we kept getting business and eventually this gal settled in. So far she’s doing fine.

      Bird migration seems so automatic that it’s always a surprise when one doesn’t follow the script. It would be interesting to know the motivations behind the rule-breaking, or if the concept of motivation even applies. As you said, who knows the mind of a bird? I hardly know my own, and that’s on a good day.

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