Re: Selasphorus hummingbird in Pleasant Hill

Teale Fristoe

Of interest to everyone: Sibley says the "general shape and pattern of dives is distinctive", then shows Rufous performing repeated steep dives while Allen's "often" begins with back and forth shuttle display before doing a single steep dive. I've taken this to mean that the display is a reliable field mark to tell males apart.

Of interest to Fred: I go to the garden at Panoramic Hill frequently (using the Claremont Canyon ebird hotspot). The two male Selasphorus hummingbirds you saw up there are Allen's. I've seen them many times in the same general locations for several weeks (first saw one Feb 4, the other Feb 14), have watched them display, and have pictures of the tail feathers of one.

If you're interested in seeing completely orange backed Rufous Hummingbirds in that area, I found a couple two days ago and refound them both yesterday lower in Claremont Canyon. I didn't look for them today so they may have moved on. Both required some patience to get good looks. Coordinates and a photo are in this ebird checklist:

Happy and safe spring,
Teale Fristoe

On Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 5:55 PM Fred Werner <sustainablefred@...> wrote:
Does anyone know of links to recordings that show a difference in the sounds of Allen's vs. Rufous Hummingbirds?
Sibley suggests there's a difference:

Allen's "Male dive display produces high, humming whistle, not stuttering like Rufous."

while Rufous "Male dive display produces stuttering, humming vi vi virrr."

On the few recordings I've found, I can't hear a difference.  For example, both of these displays sound stuttering to me:

fyi - Here's a good page on distinguishing the two by their tail feathers:

Like some (many?) of you, I've been struggling to distinguish these since I moved out here a dozen years ago.  I rarely see all-reddish male Rufous, and almost never get a good look at those tail feathers (even in my photos), so I STILL call almost everything "Allen's/Rufous".  But then just yesterday, I watched one do its U-shaped display dive here on the Berkeley/Oakland border on Panoramic Hill (Strawberry Canyon).  It didn't seem to stutter in its buzzy, trilly, dive, so I entered it on my eBird list as Allen's...

- Fred Werner
Berkeley, CA

On Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 1:47 PM Martin Lycan <mrlycan@...> wrote:
Unless I can positively identify as Rufus I've started counting as Allen's\Rufus. It is difficult at best to get a good look at the tail feathers in the field and from what I have recently read the relative amount of green on the back is not really indicative of one or the other, other than a total lack of green indicating Rufus.   I've recently noted a few local photos of male  Allens' in ebird but these for the most part appear to me to be an either\or proposition. 

Join to automatically receive all group messages.