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Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) Trochilidae, male

Missoula, MT
May 31, 2017
Robert Niese

I spent a whole weekend trying to photograph Calliopes visiting this feeder, but they refused to participate. The RUHUs on the other hand, tolerated my presence much more and were happy to pose for me. This male was so aggressive he nearly chased me away from his feeder! How does such a tiny animal possess so much spunk?!

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Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) Trochilidae, male

Missoula, MT
June 12, 2016
Robert Niese

Just as the sun is setting, this hummingbird feeder becomes a hub of activity. We can have as many as 12 individuals feeding all at once! I love it! In addition to RUHUs, we also see many Calliopes and some Black-chinned hummers here.

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Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) Trochilidae, male

Missoula, MT
June 12, 2016
Robert Niese

Male RUHUs are probably the first hummingbirds to arrive here in Montana in the spring. They are our most aggressive hummingbirds and will chase anything that gets too close to their territories. Look for them in moist or riparian woods throughout the Pacific Northwest from April to September. In Western Washington, males will arrive with the first blooms of Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) and Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) in late February and March.

Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) Trochilidae

University of Washington, Seattle, WA
January 13, 2013
Robert Niese

This is the only species of hummingbird to overwinter here in the Pacific Northwest — and they’ve only been doing it for a few decades. Scientists believe that human-provided winter nourishment (i.e. hummingbird feeders) are the primary food source for these non-migrating individuals during the winter months.

As such, researchers at the University of Puget Sound are studying these two distinct populations of birds to determine if they might be diverging — genetically and morphologically. With the help of museum specimens dating back to the early 20th century, we are finding that resident populations of hummers here in the PNW are slightly different than their migratory counterparts.