Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sweet and Warm Louisiana Southern Hospitality, November 3

I had contacted Craig Mineo on Friday, November 1 about his post to Louisiana Birds list serve regarding the male Calliope Hummingbird in his yard, asking if I could come to River Ridge at his house near New Orleans to see the Calliope Hummingbird, if the bird was still present.  Craig responded on Saturday in the wee hours of the morning, because he works nights, that the Calliope Hummingbird was still present and that I was welcome to come to his house to see this bird.  I missed Calliope Hummingbird in Arizona during migration in the Spring and in the Fall.  I knew that Calliope Hummingbirds overwinter along the Gulf Coast, particularly in Louisiana.  This was my best and maybe only shot at adding this bird to my list for the year.  I wanted to try for the male Calliope Hummingbird rather than the less distinctive plumage of a female or immature Calliope Hummingbird, at least one of which had been reported in Louisiana.  On Friday, I had returned to my hotel in Jennings very tired, took a long nap, woke up very late and was eating a very late dinner at a truck stop restaurant next door when I received Craig's response.  I responded immediately that I would come on Sunday, if that was satisfactory, because Saturday was my Yellow Rail trip.  Early Sunday morning I got another note from Craig telling me that the Calliope Hummingbird was still present.  I left Jennings at about 8:30 am, based on the time change, which was 7:30 am by hummingbird time.  Craig had told me that the best time is between 10:30 am to 4 pm.

I arrived at about 10:30 am,  Craig and his wife Sandra had returned from church and welcomed me.  Craig and I looked for the bird in its usual roosting spot in a crape myrtle tree over the driveway, but could not find it.  We checked the usual spots in the back yard where it would feed and other trees, but could not find it.  Craig was worried that the bird would not show up for me.  Not to worry.  While we were standing near the feeder discussing the hummingbird and other topics about my Big Year, we heard the bird chipping.  Then out of the corner of his eye, Craig noticed that the bird flew out of the bush behind me on which the feeder was hanging.  It flew very close to me but behind my back and went up into the crape myrtle to roost.  I got good looks at the bird but wanted some photos.  But just then it disappeared again.  At Craig's suggestion, I stood on the front porch where I could peer around the house corner at the feeder and also watch the favorite roost spot in the crape myrtle tree.  Craig went inside to join Sandra and watch from inside.  Usually, during the week when Craig and Sandra were at work, the Calliope had the yard to itself.  The extra human activity may have caused it to be shy today. 

Soon the Calliope Hummingbird returned to its favorite roost and I got lots of photos.  See below.  I saw the very small size, the spikey dark reddish purple iridescent gorget feathers on a white background on the throat, the relatively straight short bill and the wings extending to but not far beyond the tip of the short tail.  This bird was clearly in molt, and consequently, spent a lot of time preening.  The back, wings and crown were a grayish green, and not the brighter green of breeding plumage.  The throat feathers were not as bright as in breeding plumage, the colors of which were often muted by the shade of the drape myrtle.  Nonetheless, it was a great bird to see and to add to my list.  Thanks, Craig!    
Calliope Hummingbird, showing spikey gorget feathers, white mark behind eye

Calliope hummingbird, showing magneta color of spikey gorget feathers
wings as long as tail
Calliope Hummingbird, spikey gorget feathers, preening a lot
It is amazing that this smallest hummingbird that breeds in North America migrates from the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains the whole way south to Louisiana and beyond.  This one safely reached Craig's backyard haven this year.  What a feisty, tough little bird! 

It was really fun visiting with Craig and Sandra.  He has several bushes that he has planted specially for hummingbirds and has had eight species of hummingbirds in his yard, many or all of which have been banded by Nancy Newfield, a local and nationally known hummingbird expert who has published many articles about hummingbirds and several articles in the Birding magazine published by the American Birding Association.  Nancy's 30+ years of banding documented that hummingbirds overwinter in Louisiana.  I remember when that was not known.  Craig proudly showed me his book of photos of many of the eight species that were in his yard and two special bushes recommended by Nancy to plant in his yard just for hummingbirds.  Soon, however, it was time for me to go.  I have so little time and more birds to chase and find.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Craig and Sandra.  Sandra photographed Craig and me.  See below.
Craig and Jay in front of hummingbird feeder and a favorite bush
Craig and Sandra, thank you so much for the warm Louisiana southern hospitality.  I hope that you enjoy your 25 year celebration trip and find some great new birds for your life list.

Calliope Hummingbird raises the total to 693 + 2.  How sweet it is!                  

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Jay: Only 5 more to go. Thor

    Thor Manson
    Oliver, B.C.