Very Special Fall Hummingbirds

Rufous hummingbird in winter in Michigan, 27 Dec 2011 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

12 October 2022

Eastern North America has only one hummingbird, the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), but in late fall after the ruby-throats have left for the tropics a few western hummingbirds come east.

Rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) breed in the Pacific Northwest to Alaska and spend the winter along the Gulf Coast and in Mexico. Their range map says they don’t occur in the eastern U.S., not even on migration.

Rufous hummingbird range map from Wikimedia Commons (orange=breeding, lavender=winter range) Yellow lines added by Kate St. John

However, beginning in late October, a few show up in Pennsylvania. Some even reach the Atlantic Coast. An eBird map of rufous hummingbird reports from October to February, 2019-2022, shows them dotted across the eastern U.S.

Rufous hummingbird eBird reports, Oct-Feb 2019-2022 (screenshot from eBird Species Map)

So don’t take down your hummingbird feeders yet. Watch for a very special rare hummingbird — so rare that ornithologists will want to band it(*).

See a closeup of a banded rufous hummingbird, learn about their habits, and find out about the even rarer Allen’s hummingbird at:

(*) Information on who to call in Pittsburgh if you get a rufous hummingbird at your feeder is in the article above.

(photo and range map from Wikimedia Commons; screenshot map of eBird reports; click on the captions to see the originals)

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