Saturday, April 30, 2011


No, it's not time for another visit to the barbershop. This post is about one of the several Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds (Amazilia tzacatl) who attempt to dominate all the feeders in our yard. Ridgely, in "A Guide to the Birds of Panama" describes the species as, "Perhaps even more active and pugnacious than most other members of its family." He nails it. We have so many of the obstreperous little fellows that it's difficult to determine who's who. They all want to rule, and there are more than one who stake out a twig or wire from where they keep a watch on all the feeders within their view. When anybody else flies in for a sip at any of those feeders, the watcher makes a beeline for the sipper and tries to dispel him or her. There is a pecking order - sometimes the sipper is routed, and sometimes not. The Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer stands his ground in all dust-ups, as do most of the White-necked Jacobins most of the time. The little Blue-chested Hummingbirds always surrender and fly off, squealing as they go. The tiny Stripe-throated Hermit goes low, sometimes hiding behind our shoulders or even below a chair, or in the terrace bathroom. It waits just a few seconds for the attacker to be distracted by someone else, then sneaks back to the feeder and has a drink.

The past few days, one of the guardian Rufous-tailed Hummers has made a peculiar buzzing sound when he flies. The sound is due to extreme molt of the tail and wing feathers. It couldn't be considered catastrophic molt, such as penguins and elephant seals undergo, but Buzz is not in his best-ever shape. His tailfeathers are varied lengths, the lengths are not bilaterally symmetrical, and it seems that his wings barely have enough feathers to get or keep him airborne. Have a look and a listen at his condition in Marco's video below. Since we have recently been able to pick out his particular flight sound, we've been impressed by the number of attacks and warning flights he makes in his frequent attempts to rule his little patch.

No comments:

Post a Comment