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Hummingbirds in Puget Sound

May 30, 2010

Most years we set out a Fuchsia in a shady spot near the house.  Our long time favorite has been “Dark Eyes”, which has a preference for shade to part shade.  Besides color all summer, fuchsia is a favorite of hummingbirds, which for us makes cleaning and constant care of these plants less chore for the pleasure of watching hummers, which are ‘hardwired’, or attracted, to the color red.

This year we picked “Swingtime”, a hanging basket fuchsia with red and white petals because it is noted for sun tolerance. Not sure of its tolerance at this point since we’ve had constant grey and rain since it was set out over two weeks ago. It is parked out in the open on the deck.

So far, the hummers seem to prefer its location in the open, rather than under the roof eave near the patio/deck door; and, it seems, an almost constant stream of birds are feeding at it now–at least three–‘Anna’s’. For hummingbirds, two is a crowd so any more than one at the fuchsia means they are fighting, chasing, swirling, and dive bombing in a rush of buzzing wings, and clicking, chipping argument.

There are two species of hummingbird common to the Puget Sound Trough region, according to the Seattle Audubon Society. The most common, Anna’s Hummingbird, is actually resident throughout the year, some individuals having bred “out” the instinct to migrate south to Mexico. A growing population are being supplemented food at feeders during the winter. I’ve seen these hardy souls dashing about in December. They follow the spring blooms, from cherries in early February through the summer riots of ornamental flowers in our gardens.

Anna’s are the one we have seen so far at Swingtime Fuchsia. Two individuals are likely males, I don’t see bronze red heads on them, however; nor white-tipped tails.  Both male and female are predominantly iridescent green over back and tail. The third has a rich patch of red on her chin and streak of white just short of black tipped tail feathers that flashes white stripes as she hovers and fans her tail.

The Rufous Hummingbird is our second summer resident. I am waiting to identify Rufous. Rufous is more bronze red, well, rufous, than Anna’s. Male and female carry green backs and wings but the male is red all-round the head. The female has a red spot at her throat. It can be easy to confuse the females of Rufous with that of Anna’s.  The flashing white tail tip is the distinguishing feature of an Anna’s female.

Rufous are common from April into July, then start migrating south. By the end of September, females and juveniles have departed from Washington for winter homes in Mexico and Texas, some having migrated from Alaska and British Columbia.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 26, 2011 2:55 pm

    August, 2011- Swingtime fushia worked very well last summer, and into the Fall. It is tolerant of sun, and was very robust. Humming birds loved this fushia. hbm-la

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