Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Wrong Hummingbird

In the 13 years I have been living in this loveshack, moneypit house and staring blankly out the window at the yard, I had never seen a hummingbird. I had seen monarch and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies, hummingbird hawk moths, bumblebees and goldfinch, even the occasional deer and possum. Until yesterday.

Midmorning I spied a hummingbird hovering by my purple butterfly bush and I got so excited that I ran outside to take a closer look. But it was the WRONG hummingbird.

I vaguely recalled that only one species of hummingbird is common in the Northeast and this one - with its brown body -- didn't look the way I remembered from pictures I had seen. So I consulted and this is what I learned:

"East of the Mississippi, it is well-known that there is only one expected hummingbird--the familiar Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Ruby-throateds typically arrive in April and the bulk have departed by the first of October. However, any hummingbird seen after about 15 October is more likely to be a rare western species than a Ruby-throated!"

My visitor didn't look like a ruby-throated hummingbird and it wasn't yet October 15, when these "rare western species" arrive. And, in comjunction with the record 113 degree heat recorded in LA several days ago and the shocking news that Lindsay Lohan has re-entered rehab, I am wondering whether this sighting represents something more sinister than a mere hummingbird gone awry. Something like The End of Days.

You be the judge. 


  1. I think with hummingbirds it would be the "End of Seconds."

  2. You've got a point there! Are you an ornithologist?

  3. Any idea what kind of hummingbird you actually saw?

  4. sounds like you spotted a female ruby-throated hummie, or an immature male.

  5. We have hummingbirds here. My guess that they have flown VERY FAST to NJ to escape the heat. It's cooled a bit. They should be on their way home now if they don't get too lost.


  6. You might be right Sherry. We have LOTS of immature males around here.

  7. Could it have been a Rufous Hummingbird? We get those and they're brown.

    If you care to become more deeply involved in this, if you know of a wintering hummingbird east of the Mississippi, you can report it to the Research Department at Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History at: They will contact a local hummingbird bander about capturing the bird, identifying and banding it, and releasing it unharmed.

  8. I would, Patti, but it flew away. Probably to wreak havoc on the universe.

  9. Hummingbirds are harbingers of havoc.