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Male rufous hummingbird: Ever seen one of these little guys?

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 6:21 am in hummingbirds, rufous hummingbird.

Male rufous hummingbird at feeder. Photo by Rick Arluck, Sammamish, WA
1rufous rick arluck sammamish wa

I thought you might enjoy these pictures taken at my brother’s feeder in Sammamish, WA, in June. I sure wish I had seen these guys here!
Carol Weldin, Alamo, California

Male rufous hummingbird in flight. Photo by Rick Arluck, Sammamish, WA
1rufous2 rick arluck sammamish wa

What a beautiful little male rufous hummingbird. We do occasionally see these little characters around the San Francisco Bay Area, you know. Our most common local hummingbird is the Anna’s hummingbird, but we also get visits from rufous and Allen’s hummers.

I have a male Anna’s hummer that rules my backyard in Benicia, CA. He guards “his” feeder and chases away all other hummers to protect “his” nectar. He’s pretty good at it, too, until one day a rufous hummingbird arrived to take him on. The rufous is smaller than an Anna’s, kind of like comparing a fighter plane to a bigger bomber.

So the rufous zooms in to the feeder, the Anna’s dives down to chase him away … and I see the MUCH faster rufous zipping off with the Anna’s in hot pursuit. They get a couple of backyards away and the rufous suddenly pulls a 90 degree turn and heads back to my feeder, gets 3 or 4 good gulps out of the feeder before the Anna’s arrives, zooms off again with the Anna’s on his tail and they keep this up until the rufous has eaten his fill and disappears.

The male Anna’s rested in the apple tree for the next hour. /Gary

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7 Responses to “Male rufous hummingbird: Ever seen one of these little guys?”

  1. Christina Says:

    We saw a few of these during a visit to San Juan Capistrano this summer. They are pretty zippy!

  2. Barbara Says:

    Actually I have seen them a few instances in Martinez, Carol. (BTW, great photos!)

  3. Gary Says:

    The past few summers, we’ve seen a male rufous occasionally visit our feeder in the west hills of Dublin. The male Anna’s that defends the feeder never seems to try to chase him off. I guess he’s learned from experience.

  4. Carol Says:


    Thanks for the comment about great photos; however, I can’t take credit ~ my brother in Sammamish, WA took them. Pretty amazing though and great to know that you have seen them in Martinez!! Incidentaly, my brother says the roufus have departed for their southern hang outs and he now has regular Anna’s constantly battling over their two backyard feeders. I don’t have that drama in my backyard; one keeps to one feeder; the other keeps to another feeder. How boring, right?

  5. Barbara Says:

    Same with mine, Carol, insofar as territory is concerned. They HAVE shared — but that’s about as common as earthquakes and hurricanes hitting my former home in Maryland (like they did this past week).

    I enjoy the variety of dives, flight patterns and sounds they make.

    Just one feeder actually can provide a lot of entertainment. At my house, one hummingbird rules the roost. (He thinks.) A rookie will fly up to attempt sugar water infringement; and the “owner” chases it off. Then a third appears to get his share of stash, and disappears into oblivion. The macho owner returns not realizing that he has been duped.

    And the circle begins again … These little guys are the Blue Angels of the bird world. :)

  6. suzanne Says:

    Feeling lucky! We have a lone baned-tail pigeon living near our backyard. We are in Danville along the San Ramon creek. They may be common in SF but when I saw it on my feeder I said “Check out that bird! What is it?” It seems quiet happy with the Steller Jays and Scrub Jays buzzin it, but if we open a door or window to try and take a picture-it’s gone!

  7. Darlene Kramer Says:

    I moved to Antioch in January and for the first time saw rufous hummingbirds, male and female in our yard. Two were dead this morning close to our blooming orange tree which right now is buzzing with large black bees. There didn’t seem to be any marks on the birds so I assume they were stung.

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