Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Annabelle told me they had-"HUMMINGBIRDS IN PA IN DECEMBER?"

Howdy Folks,
I called Annabelle last evening, she says "hi" to all her facebook and blog friends she never met but loves dearly. She thanks everyone for the cards and gifts, they, and thoughts of you, cheer up her room. She was extra excited for me to call this week because she had really fun news that she wanted to tell everyone ... If you're new to the blog, Annabelle bird is a long time dear friend in PA who taught me much about birds, wildflowers and heirloom plants. We have a lot of history together. For years I had a bluebird trail on her farm which I monitored by horseback. She would stop me as I rode past her porch for a detailed report each week. When we moved to VA in '06 I kept in touch weekly. About a year ago dear Annabelle moved to a nursing home and now she looks forward to our chats even more. I tell her about the VA birds and she tells me about the PA birds.

Our phone visits usually start out with the details of the birds visiting the feeders outside her nursing home window. Not to much going on there right now she said, just the normal Chickadees, a few Juncos, House Finches and Gold Finches. I told her it is really warm here, too and our feeders have about the same attendance, but we get a few Cardinals and Red Breasted Nuthatches, too. We agreed the warm weather and abundance of natural food had our feathered friends enjoying nature's bounty in the wild.

There's a local radio show that Annabelle listens to each Saturday morning all about local birding. In past years we had both been regular callers, and of course listeners, but sadly the station does not stream on the internet so I've not heard the show in 6 years, but Annabelle usually gives me the highlights each week.

Rufous Hummingbird
Well this week's highlight was all about Hummingbirds in Berks and Lancaster Counties, PA in December! … There were several (7) "confirmed" sightings of Rufous Hummingbirds at feeders, December 11 – 15! I know folks are reading this in places far from PA and where it stays much warmer year round, but it gets mighty chilly in PA by December and Hummingbird sightings are very rare indeed by November! Many folks who feed, though, will keep feeders up through November for the stragglers. 

But a Hummingbird sighting in mid December is something extraordinary for sure! Of course any sighting of a Rufous Hummingbird in PA is worth getting excited about as they are rare there anytime.

Allen's Hummingbird
And there was even more December, Hummingbird news from PA that Annabelle had to share. There were 3 sightings of the very rare indeed Allen's Hummingbird, too!! I had to go to Cornell Lab of Ornithology to even read about it so I could tell you! They say, "Extremely similar in appearance to the widespread Rufous Hummingbird, the Allen's Hummingbird breeds only along a narrow strip of coastal California and southern Oregon." …. What was this little fellow doing in PA in the winter? How did he get there? Both the Rufus and Allen's sightings were confirmed by several very knowledgeable birders and one of the Rufus and the Allen's were even banded! Wow!

The most common Hummingbird on the East Coast is of course the Ruby Throated, and in the summer months Robbie and I hang plenty of feeders and have as many as 50 of the flying jewels on our porch at a time here in VA. We always keep a few feeders up until the end of November … Next year we'll keep them up until New Years!

Some very exciting and unexpected news from Annabelle, for sure. And to add a twist to this story … Yesterday during Coffee Clutch with Kessy and the gang I had asked Kessy how many weeks yet until the Hummingbirds returned … It was that thought that made me call Annabelle yesterday.

Gitty Up
Dutch Henry

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