The Baton Rouge Audubon Society organized a field trip to three local yards here in Baton Rouge who are hosting wintering hummingbirds. About 30 people showed up for the event, which they were surprised about -- normally it's been less than 15. So we trundled into various automobiles, and caravaned over to the first house. This house is on over an acre wooded lot with mature trees and LOTS of mature evergreens (camellias, hollies, pines, ligustrum, etc). It was also loaded with blooming hummer plants like shrimp plant, abutilon, even a blue salvia in bloom! Remember, even though we are in Louisiana and the winters are mild, this really IS the middle of winter for us -- I was amazed that so much was in bloom. She said the hummer plant of preference was the red abutilon, which she said is very nectar-rich. She had many feeders up -- either the 8oz Perky Pet pinch waist bottle style (with the flowers removed, interestintly enough) or the little Perky-Pet 3 oz beginner feeders. Her yard hosted over a dozen birds and I believe she said that seven had been banded and marked the week before. I saw my first male Rufous -- what a handsome bird with that wonderful rusty color! But he was outdone by the Buff-Bellied hummer...I am still in awe! It's a large and colorful hummingbird and it even sounds distinctly different than the Rufous or Black-chinned she's also hosting. She says the evergreen cover is the key -- I'm sure the nectar rich plants don't hurt either. She gave out cuttings of the abutilon and red shrimp plant so I'm looking forward to trying to root those.
The next house hosted a slew of Black-Chinned birds. There was a live oak with several blooming hummer plants, dominated by the large Turk's cap. EAch bird seemed to have staked out its tiny territory, but every once in a while the boundaries would be violated and then the battle was on! There was a male Rufuous at this house as well, but he'd staked out a claim to the back yard. We also saw two Baltimore Orioles, a Blue-Headed Vireo, Red-crowned Kinglet, and a Blue-gray gnatcatcher.
The last house on the tour had a small yard and the owner told us he was hosting only three birds, but much to his surprise, a 4th showed up while we were there. The new one was a Black-Chinned female. He also had an adult male Rufous (wonderful coloring!). But the stars of the show were the Calliope hummers. The young male was fairly nondescript, but he was still neat to see because of his shape--small bird, short bill (compared to other hummers) and wings longer than his body which gave him a big-headed, pot-bellied look. The adult male, however, has this wonderful metallic purple gorget that is unlike any other hummer and certainly makes him stand out! What a treat to see!
As for my own hummers... my back-yard Rufous(yellow spot) is still around. I have seen another bird or birds, but have not yet ID'd it/them. I haven't seen the Red-spot Rufous, so it may have moved on after the trauma of banding.