Welcome to the first day of Spring!
The She Rufous. (shown in the photo) has green upperparts with some white, some iridescent orange feathers in the center of the throat, and a dark tail with white tips and rufous base.
Photo by J.Borno
The Rufous hummingbird is famous for ranging the farthest of any of the hummingbirds. A 2,000 mile journey takes them from their winter homes in Mexico to breeding grounds in the coast of Alaska and into Canada. They usually arrive in Canmore in mid May and start their return south early August.
The Rufous will take a migration route north and south through the mountains and deserts of the West Coast. This route is usually called the ”Pacific Flyway” or “floral highway.” Nature has provided a progression of blooming hummingbird wildflowers that open in stages as the birds travel along the highway. Floral timing paces the migration.
When the hummingbirds return to Mexico, their floral highway is inland so they travel south through the Rocky Mountains – along the eastern slopes of the Continental Divide. The high mountains catch precipitation leftover from the monsoon rains – providing a wave of late summer flowers that feed the hummingbirds. Weighing in at a little more than a penny, it must double its body weight in order to fuel its migration from its breeding grounds back to central Mexico.
The Continental Divide causes a number of meteorological events. One of them is to create a swirling of winds around a high pressure dome called the “Great Basin High.” The winds circle clockwise and match the long looping route that the hummingbirds follow. This provides a steady tail wind to support their travels and, more importantly, not hinder them.
The Rufous and Calliope are the most common nesters in the Banff / Canmore area and the Ruby Throat and Black Chinned will show up occasionally as well. Unfortunately, despite being reasonably common, hummingbirds aren’t easy to come across and they are so quick its very very difficult to get more than a fleeting glimpse.
The town of Canmore and Banff has a bylaw which prohibits bird feeders of any kind from April 1 to October 31. The minimum fine is $ 100 for the first offence, $ 200 for the second and $ 500 for third each one thereafter.