Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pugnacious Defender

This one has been vigorously defending my front feeder for the past several days, as hummers often do. Actually, it’s the males who are so bent on territoriality. The females, it seems, take advantage of these spats between competing males, sneaking to a feeder once a chase has led the males away.

This one also demonstrates the difficulty we sometimes have in identifying these creatures. It took a while, but several of us emailed back and forth pointing out attributes in support of our various positions. For one, the absence of color on the gorget caused some of us to speculate that this might be a Black Chinned Hummingbird. However, the head is not flat but humped as would be expected for a Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Also, concentrate on the wing in the foreground. Its longest primary (P10) is pointed. The tail is dramatically notched. Again, these suggest a Ruby Throat. Finally, habitat is a clue and we would be wise to pay attention to it. This specimen was photographed in the Lost Pines area of Bastrop, Texas. Black Chins prefer a more open habitat.

So, we conclude this is a Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

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