(22 December 2003)

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

On 9 December 2003 Dr. Lyle Campbell of the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg E-mailed us that--beginning sometime in November--an apparent Rufous Hummingbird had been visiting a feeder several miles from campus at the home of Bob and Willaminta Hight. Lyle was the tipster in 2002 for another hummer in the Boiling Springs area that we subsequently caught and confirmed as a hatch-year male Rufous.

Unfortunately, the Hights were suffering from the flu during early and mid-December this year, so we temporarily deferred contacting them to set up a banding attempt. Eventually their health improved and we arranged to travel the 60 miles from our home base in York SC to Spartanburg (Spartanburg County) on the morning of 22 December, with the hope of verifying the species of the Hights' winter hummingbird.

We departed Hilton Pond Center an hour before dawn on the 22nd and arrived at the Hight residence in semi-darkness just at 7 a.m. We quickly moved the Hights' feeder into our portable hummingbird trap, re-hung it outside back window, and stepped inside where it was considerably warmer.

Within 20 minutes a hummingbird appeared, checked out the trap, entered, and was caught as we pushed the button on our remote mechanism. A rusty back and tail left no doubt that the Hights had been hosting a juvenile male Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus, whose measurements are below.

Vital Statistics for
Rufous Hummingbird #Y14857

Age/Sex--hatch-year male
Wing Chord--40.9mm
Tail Length--26.5mm
Tail Fork--6.0mm
Culmen (upper bill)--16.0mm
Bill Corrugations--not recorded
Gorget--seven orange-red metallic feathers

After completing all measurements and banding the Spartanburg hummer, we passed the bird to Mrs. Hight, who released it gently and watched as it flew to a nearly treetop. Then it was time to load up equipment and aim our van up I-26 for a trip toward Columbus NC--where we'd heard there was yet another winter vagrant hummingbird to be banded.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

From October 15 to March 15
Please report
your sightings of all
Vagrant & Winter Hummingbirds
east of the Rockies

Hatch-year male Rufous Hummingbird

If you're interested in sharing your hummingbird observations and learning from other enthusiasts, you may wish to subscribe to Hummingbird Hobnob, our Yahoo!-based discussion group. Also be sure to visit our award-winning Web site for Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project; on it you'll find almost anything you want to know about hummingbirds, including more information about Hummingbird Banding.

Students at GLOBE-certified schools may submit winter hummingbird observations as part of Operation RubyThroat and GLOBE. Students can also correlate hummingbird observations with data on abiotic factors, including atmosphere, climate, hydrology, soils, land cover, and phenology. See the "Protocols" section of the GLOBE Web site for details about this exciting collaboration.

For much more information about hummingbirds, visit
Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this website--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.