Banding Data

Location Code:  VAN6
Location Desc.: MICHIGAN, Van Buren Co., Hartford
Latitude:  N 42į 12'
Longitude:  W 086į 10'
Hummer Host: Karen Harmon

Total banded to date: 1

Date Band No. Age Sex Comments
14-Nov-09 Hx1083 AHY F Rufous Hummingbird!
First observed: late-Sep-09.
Last Observed: 29-Dec-09.

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Michigan Rare Bird Report

Species: Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), adult female

Date & Time: November 14, 2009. First observed by homeowner in late September and last observed on December 29, 2009. I arrived around 8:00 a.m. and set up my trap at 8:15 a.m. and caught the bird at 8:58 a.m. The bird was banded and released at 9:16 a.m. under Federal permit No. 23156, and Michigan permit No. SC 1303. The bird had returned to the feeder by 4:00 p.m. according to the homeowner.

Location: At the home of Karen Harmon in Hartford, Van Buren Co.

Observer (s): Allen Chartier, Jonathan Wuepper, Karen Harmon (homeowner).

Equipment: Photographed in-hand with digital camera (attached to this document). All measurements were made using digital calipers. Bill corrugations were determined by viewing through a 10x loupe, as they are impossible to accurately determine any other way.

Viewing conditions: The sky was overcast and the light diffuse. The bird was banded, measured, weighed, and photographed outdoors.

Description: When the bird first made an appearance in the area before entering the trap, it was apparent that it was a Rufous or Allenís Hummingbird, based on peach-rufous on the flanks, and an irregular blotch of iridescent throat feathers. This observation was made with my 10x Swarovski binoculars from a distance of about 30-feet. The bird was then captured for banding, and it was aged, sexed, and identified in that order. The proper use of Stiles (1972) for banders requires that an individual Rufous/Allenís Hummingbird in-hand be correctly aged and sexed before a species determination can be made (B. Sargent and N. Newfield, pers. comm.).

Age: The bird was aged as after hatch-year (adult) based on the absence of shallow groovings or corrugations on the upper mandible. This is universally recognized as the most reliable method for age determination in hummingbirds (Ortiz-Crespo, 1972).

Sex: The upper tail coverts and rump were entirely green. The rufous on the base of the central rectrix (r1) was restricted to about the basal 25%, and was completely covered by the green upper tail coverts. As the bill corrugations indicated the bird was adult, plumage alone is enough to confirm the bird was a female, but these additional plumage characters support that this bird was a female.

The wing measurement of 43.21 mm was near the middle of the range for adult and immature female Rufous given in Stiles (1972). It is also near the large end of the range for immature males, so the wing chord measurement supports the sex of this bird as female.

The bill measurement (exposed culmen) can sometimes be helpful for determining sex as indicated in Table 1 in Stiles (1972). This birdís exposed culmen measurement of 17.10 mm was near the middle of the range given for adult and immature females Rufous. It is also near the large end of the range for immature males, so the exposed culmen measurement supports the sex of this bird as female.

The pattern of iridescent gorget feathers on the throat can sometimes be helpful in determining the sex of Selasphorus hummingbirds. This bird had 5 clustered together in the center of the throat (see photos). This pattern is more indicative of females than males, though the number of iridescent feathers varies considerably and is not particularly useful for supporting an age determination.

Species: Given that the bird was an after hatch-year (adult) female, using Stiles we can determine whether this bird was a Rufous or Allenís Hummingbird using several additional measurements and observations. The presence of notching and/or emargination on the second rectrix from the center (r2) is one feature that can often be observed in the field to confirm Rufous, and is considered diagnostic. This individual had no noticeable notching or emargination on eith web of the second rectrix (see photos). Using Figure 3 in Stiles (1972), the shape most closely matched figure Ca. This character this could not be used to identify the species. Additional characters used for identification, the widths of two other tail feathers, the central rectrix (r1) and the outermost rectrix (r5) were measured. The width of the central rectrix (r1) was measured as 8.81 mm. This is above the mid- range for adult female Rufous and outside the range for both subspecies of Allenís Hummingbird* given in Stiles (1972) so is strongly supportive of Rufous.

The width of the outer rectrix (r5) was measured as 3.91 mm. This is broader than the maximum range for immature female Allenís (max. 3.3 mm for both subspecies given in Stiles 1972) and so provides additional conclusive and diagnostic support to the identification as Rufous.

Tail measurements are often not very useful. This birdís tail measurement of 28.0 mm is above the maximum for adult females of both subspecies of Allenís (Stiles 1972) and is at the upper end of the range for adult female Rufous. So tail length is somewhat useful in this case.

Molt: There was no body molt evident on this bird. The outer 6 primaries (p5-p10) were old and worn, and the inner primaries (p1-p4) were recently replaced and contrastingly shiny black. All rectrices were worn.

Fat/Weight: The bird had a fat code of 1 (0-3 scale) and weighed 3.54 grams, about average for an adult female planning an extended stay.

Voice: Brief, sharp chip note when the bird was flying around before entering the trap. More strident than Ruby-throated gives.

Similar Species: Allenís Hummingbird is the species most similar to Rufous Hummingbird. On this bird, the diagnostic measured width of the outer (r5) rectrix was the primary character confirming the identification, with strong support from the measured width of the central (r1) rectrix. The wing length also supports the identification as Rufous.

Experience: I have seen dozens of Rufous Hummingbirds in several states, banded more than 50 in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario since 2001, handled ~35 in Louisiana in February 2003 with Nancy Newfield, and handled about a dozen in Arizona in 2006 helping other banders. I have seen several Allenís Hummingbirds on two trips to California and once recently in Arizona, and handled 3 in Louisiana in February 2003. As a trained, licensed hummingbird bander, I am familiar with all pertinent in-hand criteria for distinguishing Rufous from Allenís Hummingbird, in addition to known field criteria for separating these species.

When report was written: This report was written on November 25, 2009 based on data and photos taken during the banding process.

References consulted: None were consulted while observing the bird in the field, nor were any used to write notes in the field or to write this report. Stiles (1972) and Pyle (1997) were available during the banding of the bird.

* There are two subspecies of Allen's Hummingbird. One is the widespread and migratory nominate subspecies (Selasphorus sasin sasin) breeding from coastal northern California to coastal southern California and mainly migrating southward into Baja California, Mexico. The other is a more range-restricted and generally non-migratory subspecies (S. s. sedentarius), breeding on California's Channel Islands and the adjacent mainland (around Los Angeles). But sedentarius presents some problems, because it is intermediate between S. s. sasin and Rufous in some characters. And, while sasin has a shorter bill than Rufous, sedentarius has a longer bill! If sedentarius were entirely sedentary, this would not be an issue. But, I've been told (N. Newfield, pers. comm.) that the first specimen of Allen's Hummingbird collected in Louisiana actually fits sedentarius! So, however remote the possibility, sedentarius must also be considered.


Ortiz-Crespo, F.I. 1972. A new method to separate immature and adult hummingbirds. Auk 89: 851-857.

Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds: Part 1. Slate Creek Press, CA.

Stiles, F.G. 1972. Age and Sex Determination in Rufous and Allen Hummingbirds. The Condor 74: 25-32.