Rufous Hummingbird Discovered at Lenoir Nature Preserve

    On November 17, 2001, Tomi Ito-Goldmam was working in the butterfly garden at Lenoir Nature Preserve in Yonkers during one of Hudson River Audubon Society's "Butterfly Garden Maintenance Days." She mentioned to me that there was a hummingbird around. 

Now this is a very late date for any hummingbird around here and the only regularly occurring hummingbird in the east is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Most of them are gone by the end of September. Any hummingbird found late in fall could be a stray from the west and I waited impatiently for the hummer to return. It made a brief appearance and seeing rufous (rusty-red) on the sides and in the tail I new I had some type of Selaphorus Hummingbird. I went backed up to the hawk watch to alert the others and to check a field guide. We went back down and the hummingbird returned. 

The bird was an immature male, due to a line of orange-red gorget feathers stretching to each side at the bottom of the throat. I made a few calls to alert others. Rich Guthrie made it to Lenoir as light was fading and confirmed the sighting. 

The next day many of the avid area birders showed up and the fun began. The bird could be a Rufous or an Allen's, both species from the west. Immatures and females of these two species are very difficult to tell apart. One must look carefully at the tail feathers of the bird. Based on the day's observations it appeared to be a Rufous Hummingbird. Over the next few days the bird was studied, photographed, digi-scoped, and video taped. The consensus grew that it was indeed an immature male Rufous Hummingbird mainly due to is fairly wide outer tail feathers. 

Rufous Hummingbirds nest in mountain meadows from south eastern Alaska to northern California and are the most likely hummingbirds to stray to the east coast. They normally winter in Mexico.

Acording to "Bulls Birds of New York State", 1998, there are two accepted records for Rufous Hummingbird in New York. One in Orange County in the Town of Chester Aug. 9, 1993 and the other in Cambridge, Oct. to Dec. 3, 1994 where it was captured but died on Dec 9 . In addition there are 13 more reports of Selaphorus type hummingbirds (most, if not all of these are probably Rufous). This includes two from Wave Hill, Nov. 16, 1993.

The bird has continued everyday visiting the Pineapple Sage and hummingbird feeders into December. On December 23rd, it made it to the Bronx-Westchester Christmas Bird Count. See related article. The Hummingbird was last seen January 5 and 6, 2002. 

But this bird was not alone in the area. A pair of hummingbirds were found a day after the Rufous at Fort Tryon Park, northern Manhattan. They turned out to be two immature male Calliope Hummingbirds, A New York State first! calliope.html

Then, on Friday Dec 7, Hugh Martin found a second hummingbird with the Rufous. After waiting all day Saturday this second bird finally showed up at 3:15 P.M. The group of birders that remained came to a tentative id that this was a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird or at least in the genus Archiluchus.  The bird was sporadically seen, mainly being chased off by the Rufous. It was seen again on 11, 15, 16, 21, and 23rd of December. 

The previous latest dates for Ruby-throated Hummingbird are, Riis Park Queens Nov. 26 - Dec. 13, 1961 and Jamestown Nov. to Dec. 10, 1988

Hundreds of people, coming from as far away as Massachusetts, Buffalo and Cape May visited both sites to view these birds.

For more information of telling this Rufous from Allen's, see McGowan's excellent pictures and discussion on the web at

Most of these pictures were taken on Monday November 26, 2001



For more pictures from Kevin and Jay McGowan go to:

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