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Identify this Hummer?

Posted by amity 9 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 20, 07 at 15:58

Since Saturday morning I've been bestowed with the most beautiful sight -- 10 Hummers inches outside my sunroom window. Each Hummer has a different coloring, different temperment, different feeding habit so it's very easy to pick out who's at the feeders.
Through links from this GW Hummer discussion that I've saved in my Favorites File, I've been able to distingish one breed from the other, at least for most of them.

But this little guy has me stumped. All red head and chest and the red goes halfway down his back.
I can't get close enough to him for a good picture and my camera isn't the best but I tried.
He's the most skiddish of all the Hummers that come to the feeders. Any little noise and he's gone. Won't come near the feeders unless he sees absolutely no movement, not by a fellow hummer, not even a sparrow nearby.

This is odd behavior to me since all the Hummers get accustomed to me within a couple days, except this one.
Can you possibly identify this Hummer from such a small photo?

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Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Identify this Hummer?

From your description of the red back, it looks like a Rufous Hummer. Anyone else? Is there are prize? LOL

RE: Identify this Hummer?

I don't know where you are located but since you have several hummer species I am assuming you are in one of the western states like Ca. or AZ. From your picture I have to say it is a male Rufous from what I was able to tell.


RE: Identify this Hummer?

Irridescent rosey red all over head like a helmet? Try male Anna's. Orange-brown (rufous) colored head and body? Try male Rufous.


RE: Identify this Hummer?

I'm with Amy on the male Anna's. It's hard to tell much from the picture, but from your description, it sounds more like a male Anna's. It depends on what you mean by "red." I think you're saying that the same iridescent red that is on the throat is on the head and extends a little ways onto the back. By contrast, a Rufous Hummingbird has a glittering red throat, but the top of the head and usually the entire back is a rusty, non-iridescent rufous color. There's also some of that same rusty color on the sides and belly.

Does this help?

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of an Anna's male

RE: Identify this Hummer?

Thank you so very much for responding MyOneAndOnly, Penny1947, Amy z8 and Kristin Williams- much appreciated!

I tried several times to inch closer to him today and nope, he's not having any part of a human in his sight.

I get so confused because in the links of pictures of hummers there are different descriptions---some say red head and red chest some say ruby head and chest and none of the descriptions mentioned the red/ruby going halfway down the back.
Also, the variations - adult male vs. young get me confused as there is such a difference.

I see the pictures of hummers with the red/ruby going a little way down the back of the neck but this little guy has the red/ruby going halfway down his back.
I was even beginning to think maybe he's not a hummer after all. lol

I wish he would let me get close enough or at least he'd turn around and show me his whole back so that I could get a better look at his coloring. From where I can see him, halfway down is red/ruby but the rest of the back just looks 'dark' in color. No idea until he eventually turns around so the sun can hit his back so that I can tell what color it is.

Something I hadn't see yet--- late yesterday early evening I had left a couple little sweet orange slices for my bright orange chested sparrows (? I am assuming they are sparrows) on their feeders and when I walked out to the sunroom early this morning the red/ruby hummer was at the sparrow feeder looking like he was licking at the orange slice.

Would it be a bad thing to put a little orange slice on the hummer feeders to possibly let this new hummer know it's "safe" to get closer?

Just beautiful, and so different from the others, but very timid little guy that I would like to get to know better.

Thank you again, all of you, for your responses and the link. At least now I have some direction on where and what to research.



myoneandonly wrote: "is there a prize?"

LOL Loved this. LOL

How 'bout a 5 lb. bag of store brand granulated sugar? *smile*

RE: Identify this Hummer?

It sounds like your bright orange chested "sparrows" are orioles--either Bullock's, or maybe Hooded. You are in California, aren't you?

Do you have a good pair of binoculars? If not, buy or borrow a pair and maybe you can get a better view of your mystery hummer. It should be easy to tell a male Anna's from a male Rufous, as long as the light is good and you can get a decent view of "Mr. Bashful."

If you can't see the back, pay attention to whatever you can see, like the belly and sides. Are they distinctly rusty in color? If they are, that narrows it down to an Allen's or a Rufous, and rules out the Anna's. The belly and sides of an Anna's are more grayish greenish. The males of both Allen's and Rufous (and Anna's too!) have glittering red throats. Because the red is iridescent, the red could take on a little different shade depending on the lighting and your viewing angle. Don't let that confuse you. The most obvious difference between those two species is that the Allen's has a glittering green back (that may look dark in certain light) and the Rufous has an entirely rusty back, the rusty sometimes intermixed with glittering green.

As for the Anna's, it's the only one of the three that has glittering red on the top of the head, (as well as on the throat) and that may extend a bit down the upper back--but not half way, unless you've got an unusual individual.

So, when you catch a glimpse of him again, get your binoculars, and try to see if he has any rusty non-iridescent red on his belly or on his back. Pay attention to the back and try to get the colors. Is it glittering green, or is it rust colored? Is the top of the head glittering red (Anna's) or green (Rufous or Allen's)? These features should help you tell the males apart of these three species.

If you can get those binoculars, you might also get a better look by stationing yourself outside, at a respectful distance from the feeder, with the binoculars to your face and trained on the feeder. Then, if you stay very still and are excruciatingly patient, he might show up to feed. If he's really shy, just lifting the binoculars to your face might scare him. That might be the only way you'll get a decent look at him.

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of a Bullock's Oriole

RE: Identify this Hummer?


Have you ruled that this is a hummer, has it fed from your feeders? Also this bird in photo seems large so if its a hummer my guess would be male anna.

RE: Identify this Hummer?

Kristin Williams,
I swear, I can look at a dozen hummer sites online and get more information in one place just by coming here to the hummer forum!
Your post is a perfect example--Thank you so very much!!!

Guess where I'm going Saturday morning? Best Buys! Yep, for a pair of binoculars--I'm soooo excited! Thanks so much for the suggestion!!

I've printed out your response and taking it out back with me at dusk today (that is when they all gather the longest) and see what I can figure out if they stay put long enough.

Mr. Bashful (I love that! lol) just won't come close to the feeders even with me hiding inside the sunroom behind a curtain panel.
(yes, grandkids and hubby thought I had lost my marbles when they saw my feet sticking out from under the drapery).

And you are right again---I slowly lifted my camera this morning, just the smallest moves possible and it was enough to startle the 7 or 8 hummers at the feeders. I tried so hard to get a picture of a bunch of them together but every time I lifted my camera, no matter how slowly, they fled.
The hummers that have been here the longest don't seem to mind me at all. They let me get really close while they are feeding but if I happen to have a broom, pruners or camera in my hand, they scatter. Smart little critters!

Can hardly wait for my binocs. If I am able to get any new information I'll report back.
Again, Thank You!!!

I had wondered about that myself --if he was even a hummer. But from what I can see, yes, I am 99% sure he is.
I've not actually seen him feed.
He comes from across the street (a golf course with a bazillion huge trees) and stops just short of the feeders and perches on the arbor on and off all day long.
He just has my curiosity peaked because he's so different in looks and mannerisms than the other hummers.

After my binoc purchase, maybe I'll be able to give more information. I hope so, anyway.

Again, thank you all so very much for your responses---appreciated more than you know!


RE: Identify this Hummer?

I thought he looked large in the picture, but I don't know of another bird with a bill like that. It was clear enough in your picture. Geez, I envy you. I've never seen more than three at a time, and that was a giant blur as they chased one another.

Amity, if I do win, please send my five pounds of sugar immediately, cause they sure do go through it quickly. Isn't this like Christmas, I can hardly wait.

RE: Identify this Hummer?

Amity, you might want to try keeping your camera at eye level and watching for the hummers thru the view finder. All you have to do then is press the button when they come to the feeder.

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