A text message on September 19, 2020 brought the news that the Rufous Hummingbird that was banded on 11/16/2019 had possibly returned to the same yard in Williamson County, TN. It took a couple days for the host to get a ‘glimpse’ of the silver band…and this weekend we recaptured the hummingbird and confirmed that indeed this handsome adult male Rufous was indeed the bird we banded in 2019 as a hatch-year hummingbird. This feisty fellow spent the entire winter at this host home this past winter, departing some time near the end of March to return to its breeding ground to defend a territory and breed.
Rufous hummingbirds breed farther north than any other hummingbird and travel incredible distances each year between their summer breeding grounds and winter homes. They are also the #1 western hummingbird found in Tennessee and the Southeast each winter. In fact there’s currently another adult male at a home in East Tn. That bird has returned for 4 ‘winter’ seasons.
I encourage you to consider leaving out a feeder all year. Place it where you look first thing in the morning or last thing before dark. “Winter’ hummingbirds will look for quick energy food first thing off the roost in the morning and last thing before heading roost at night so it’s your ‘best’ chance of seeing one…if there’s one in your yard. It is a rare occurrence, but it does happen and I’m even more convinced it happens more than we know because these hummingbirds don’t have the competition migrating Ruby-throats do. Finally, if you do get a different looking hummingbird at your feeder after the 1st of November or before the 15th of March I’d LOVE to hear from you and perhaps you and your hummingbird will become part of our ongoing winter hummingbird research.