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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hybrid mystery solved

Kelly [Bryan] along with other banders came to band hummingbirds today. It was drizzly and we were barely able to do the banding. His banding locations after mine had to be cancelled due to rain. But he did catch the hybrid. It is, like we thought, a Black-chinned / Ruby-throated. He took lots of in-hand shots. Here are a couple of his excellent photos of it.

For those of you more technically curious, the gorget is a combination of both species. The tail is that of a Black-chinned. The P6 wing feather is that of a Ruby-throated, while the P10 is intermediate. (Thanks to Kelly for the photos and additional info.)

The photo I posted on the 25th is a Black-chinned, and the photo yesterday (26th) is the hybrid. With 3 male archilochus* zipping around, it's hard to tell them apart through the camera lens. That's what caused me so much angst. I was never positive I was seeing and photographing the same bird. But all is well that ends well.

Those of you that follow this blog probably know how I love Soapberry thickets. When we dug out the dirt tank (circa 1996) about a block east of the oasis I planted a couple of hackberry and soapberry trees. At the time, I don't think I knew the latter make thickets. I just knew they grow naturally in the arroyo and thought if I planted them at the edge of the dirt tank they'd get enough water from it to survive, because I wasn't going to haul water to them. They have survived nicely and the soapberry has made a lovely thicket. I don't see it often but it's nice knowing it's there. I saw several bird nests in it today. Can't wait for the one in the arroyo beside the oasis to look this good.

* Black-chinned, Ruby-throated, and hybrid of the two.

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