The Extreme Rufous Hummingbird

by Larry Jordan on April 26, 2011

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) Male photos by Larry Jordan

Every spring, usually in April, we begin seeing Rufous Humingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) at the feeders.  Not only does this 3 3/4″ hummingbird make the longest known avian migration (measured by body length), it reaches the northernmost latitude of any hummingbird (61° N1 near Anchorage Alaska).  Now that’s extreme.

The male with his bright orange-red gorget, makes a striking pose (click on photos for full sized images). He also aggressively protects his nectar supply by chasing off most other intruders.

This video I shot at my hummingbird feeders shows several Anna’s Hummingbirds feeding as a Rufous Hummingbird comes screaming in at the 13 second mark, clearing all other birds away.  He repeatedly chases a much larger Anna’s male away (with the bright red head), then, finally, near the end of the video, allows two female hummingbirds to feed for a few moments, then chases them away too.

Many times as the hummingbirds come into the feeder, they will pause for an instant before choosing a spot to perch.  That’s when I caught this guy in this straight on pose.

This is the much more demure and less aggressive female Rufous Hummingbird. The dark blotches under her chin glow orange-red in the sunlight as well.

I don’t know if she is nesting here or just passing through, but I will keep my eye out for her at the feeders. If I see her for any length of time, I will assume she is nesting here, even though the maps show Rufous Hummingbird’s southern most breeding range extending only into the north-western-most corner of California.

As a bit of California liquid sunshine falls, I leave you with another view of this male’s gorgeous gorget displayed for all to see.

If you want to see more super bird photos from around the world, you have to check out World Bird Wednesday, hosted by Springman over at Pine River Review!

References: 1Birds of North America Online

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

texwisgirl April 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm

truly wonderful photos. such great color on this species! i loved the video and the flashes of brilliant ‘pink’ on the anna boys too! 🙂


Mick April 26, 2011 at 8:29 pm

The birds are beautiful and the photos great. Hummingbirds have always seemed so exotic to me! It must be great to see them frequently.


Sally in WA April 26, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Fabulous shots!


fjällripan April 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Great photos! and a really lovely bird 🙂


Fotokarusellen April 27, 2011 at 12:01 am

Stunning! Great shots and very beautiful.


holdingmoments April 27, 2011 at 1:26 am

I love that video Larry. It’s like watching dancing jewels, the way they move around.
Those shots of the hummingbirds are superb too.


Boom & Gary April 27, 2011 at 4:18 am

Great shots and amazing the journey they make. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River.


MaineBirder April 27, 2011 at 7:36 am

WOW, excellent post, photos and video Larry! I can’t wait until the Ruby-throated Hummingbird returns to Maine.


Jean April 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Larry, I really enjoyed your action video and superb photos! It is so dang cool that you have 2 species of Hummingbirds.
Sometimes Anna’s and Rufous will visit GA in the winter so I maintain a feeder year-round….just in case.


springman April 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Great post Larry! You are rich in hummingbirds! Any hints on how you get these great hummer shots? We’re waiting for our lone species, the Ruby throated, to arrive any time all the way from south America! It’s an amazing world isn’t it?


Larry April 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm

@Texwisgirl thanks. The Rufous has to be my favorite colored hummer

@Mick they are a true pleasure to watch

@Sally thank you!

@Susan thank you for your visit and comments

@Fotokarusellen thank you very much

@Keith thanks. I’m trying to do more video to actually see the birds behaviors

@Gary I was also surprised to find that they had such a long migration

@John those little beauties should be there soon no?

@Jean we actually get five species of hummer here on occasion. Besides Anna’s and Rufous we get Black-chinned, Allen’s and Calliope Hummingbirds. You can see my post on the Calliope’s here.

@Dave these were shot with my 70 – 300mm zoom lens and I try to get at least 1/1200 of a second exposure by keeping my f/s as low as possible (aperature all the way open) and adjusting my ISO. Obviously, the brighter the day the better but this day was drizzly and overcast.

I usually get up on a ladder to the height of the feeders and try to catch the birds as they pause away from the feeders. I also make sure the sun is to my back to get the best colors.


So April 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

What a beauty!–His throat is like GOLD is shines so brightly…Wonderful job on these photos…NOT easy to catch one still for long.


Pat Ulrich April 27, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Beautiful shots of these hummingbirds — they are such gorgeous birds!


Pat April 28, 2011 at 5:46 am

Great shots! I have my feeder out, but haven’t seen any Hummers yet!


Larry April 29, 2011 at 5:00 am

@Sondra thank you. They are little multi-colored jewels!

@Pat gorgeous and fun to watch. It’s a great combination

@Pat you’ll be seeing them soon I’m sure


Victoria April 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Thanks for stopping by to visit my Song Sparrow… your hummingbird images are gorgeous… so nice of you to share how you captured the images! And the video is very nice… as you noted… “multi-colored jewels” and in motion!

I too, as “springman” mentioned, am waiting for the return of the Ruby-throated to our area… I don’t put out hummingbird feeders but do grow flowers in one of my window boxes that attract them… so far… no luck with photos though!


Mike B. April 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I hope to see one of these someday. I only get Anna’s around the yard- not that I’m complaining too much…


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