Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where are the Jacobins?

This is just one of four hummingbird feeders on our veranda in Gallon Jug. Note how this quart jar is empty. There are days when we can barely keep them all topped up, the feeders are in such demand. Several months out of the year, we are treated to the aerial acrobatics of up to 5 species of hummingbirds. The last few months, we've just had two species, the Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) and the Rufous-tailed (Amazilia tzacatl).

What's missing is the dominant species, the White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora, pictured above). This is a really attractive large hummer: the males have a sapphire-colored head, white underparts and emerald-green back and wings. Often we have as many as 11 males defending access to his chosen feeder. It's always entertaining as they swoop, dart and chatter, sometimes driving each other into the windows. Luckily, they always seem to recover. The females visit occasionally too, but the feeders really seem to be male dominated.

The literature doesn't say anything about jacobins being migratory. For years we've observed that they enjoy our feeders well into the summer months, entertaining us daily. At that rate, they are going through more than a quart of nectar a day. Then they suddenly disappear, returning before Christmas. Since we're not sure where they "migrate" to, we're not sure what sort of weather or other obstacles they have to overcome in order to return. Hope to see them any day now.

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