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A Christmas Hummingbird

December 28, 2009

When I return home for the holidays it’s hard to say whether or not I’ll have time to go birding in the place I grew up.  Throw a baby into the mix and the possibilities are even more tenuous.  This year I returned to southwest Missouri for the first time in a couple years with little expectation that it would be like the last time when I leisurely enjoyed my life LeConte’s Sparrow and Brewer’s Blackbirds.  With a child-shaped ball and chain keeping me close to home my options were limited.  Fortunately, my dad came to the rescue, with a near certainty just a few blocks away from home, a wintering Rufous Hummingbird that had been visiting a local feeder for a few weeks. 

It turns out that this bird was a desirable individual, just as it turns out that I’m not the only bird blogger home to southwest Missouri for the holidays.  Joining us for the Rufous run were a few other folks from the Greater Ozarks Audubon Society, including David Ringer from Search and Serendipity.  It’s odd to think that one relatively small local bird club could produce not one, but two members of the bird blogosphere, but GOAS is undoubtedly some sort of bird blog incubator as both David and I have gone on to be fairly happy and productive members of the aforementioned blogosphere.  Anyway, David was part of the group that trekked the few blocks from my house to the home of some very generous and enthusiastic fellow Ozarkers, with whom my dad had built a relationship over the time the lost little Rufous had graced my home town with its coppery presence.

When we arrived the bird was perched next to its feeder, warmed by a heat lamp set up to keep the sugar solution ice free in the bitter cold weather we’d been having in the midwest this week.  The bird seemed none the worse for wear though, and we quickly set up and began taking photos and ogling at what was a classic adult male Rufous Hummingbird.

We ended up staying for nearly an hour, watching the bird make three passes at the feeder over the course of our time there. The excitement a bird like this can have on people who, up to now, had been bird feeders if not serious bird watchers.  The Rufous had clearly lit a fire under them, and how could it not?  Such a beautiful little bird, which had traveled so far only to show up in a small southern Missouri yard in the dead of winter.  The odds of it are incredible if you spend to much time thinking about it.  But that’s the magic of vagrants, and no doubt part of what makes them so interesting. 

We chatted, as birders and bloggers are wont to do, and I don’t want to give too much away but both David and I have some really exciting things on the horizon.  You should keep posted here and there for some cool stuff.  He’ll undoubtedly have something on this hummingbird on his blog soon, including what are likely much nicer photos of a stunning hummingbird (Update: and he does!).

I may not have gotten beyond a few blocks of my parent’s home, but the birding isn’t too bad.  It’ll be back to North Carolina soon enough.

  1. Carol Casavant permalink
    December 28, 2009 1:10 pm

    How lucky for you…Beautiful bird!!! I love your photos!!!

    Carol in NH

  2. Nate permalink*
    December 28, 2009 2:33 pm

    @Carol- Thanks! My pics hardly do it justice. It was a kind of overcast day so the colors were muted, but when the sun would come out for even a minute or so, the bird would practically glow.

  3. December 29, 2009 12:30 pm

    Nicely done! We must be minds of a feather… I too wrote about hummers as ornaments for Christmas.

    I haven’t gotten any pics of Rufous yet though!



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