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A December hummingbird

This was a quiet fall for rare hummingbirds in Nebraska, unlike other recent autumns which produced a handful of notable records.  Just as it seemed the door closed for the year, a colleague forwarded a phone message today about a hummingbird coming to a feeder.  Late hummingbird reports always pique birders’ interest because rare species are typically the ones that occur in late fall rather than regularly-occurring species.  This report got me particularly interested because there have been reports of Anna’s Hummingbird in Missouri and South Dakota in recent weeks.  This western species has not been documented in Nebraska.  Maybe today was the day?   I quickly called the homeowner and found out they and the bird were in York County.  I got permission to visit.  Lauren Dinan and I grabbed our gear and hit the road over an extended lunch break.  We arrived on the scene and it did not take long to see the hummingbird – photos are below.

Rufous Hummingbird - Lushton

Rufous Hummingbird - Lushton2

It did not take long to identify this bird as a young male Rufous Hummingbird*, a western species that occurs annually in fall in far western Nebraska.  In recent years, one or a few have occurred in eastern Nebraska each fall.  However, this year this species had a poor showing in western Nebraska and none were reported east of the western panhandle.  This occurrence also appears to be the latest date this species or any other hummingbird has been observed in the state (but this is the year for late records because of the mild fall).

Good birding!

Nongame Bird Program

*I acknowledge there is a small chance the hummingbird in the photographs may be the very similar Allen’s Hummingbird, but I assume it is a Rufous Hummingbird, here.

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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