Last updated: April 29. 2014 12:01PM - 915 Views
by Sue Hokanson, Quartz Mountain Nature Park

Male Rufous Hummingbird declaring “Mine!” at the feeder.
Male Rufous Hummingbird declaring “Mine!” at the feeder.
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Quartz Mountain Nature Park had a pair of V.I.P.s spend the last week with them: a pair of Rufous hummingbirds. They arrived Sunday, April 20 and were still there Sunday, April 28.

Rufous hummingbirds may migrate almost 4,000 miles one way. They can winter as far south as Central America, and summer as far north as Alaska. While on this long seasonal migration they often stop for several days of R & R. This year they chose to stop off near the Quartz Mountain Grocery Store’s hummingbird feeder. The female might be getting some rest but the male spends a lot of time defending the feeder as HIS!
“Rufous” means reddish brown and in shadows the male looks very reddish brown. However, when the sunlight hits him he lights up a brilliant orange/ copper color. Some of the reference websites use phrases such as “glowing like hot coals”. While others use “similar to a freshly minted copper penny”. When sighted there is no doubt this is not one our regular hummingbirds!
The female is more subdues in coloring, with green heads, napes and backs, rufous tinted sides, a green tail with rufous patches and maybe an orange spot on her throat. Both sexes are about the size of our Black-Chinned hummingbirds. The Rufous also has a different sound as it flies by. The wingbeats sound more like a hum rather than a buzz. It is hard to describe but again, when you hear it you go “that’s not one our regular hummingbirds.” The websites say the birds can actually control the sound (both pitch and loudness) by changing the speed of their wing flaps.
There are more Rufous Hummingbirds being sighted in Altus and surrounding communities in the last several days. IF you see one a Rufous hummingbird, PLEASE share that information via a hummingbird survey form. These may be found on line by searching for “Oklahoma Citizen Science” and select the search result that takes you to ODWC’s website. Then download the hummingbird survey form, complete a section on when you saw the Rufous hummingbirds (when they arrived and when they left) - and follow the form directions on how to submit the form.
The ODWC Wildlife Biologists will be THRILLED with the new data.

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