It's really summertime! Our trumpet vine is in full bloom with its bright red, trumpet-shaped flowers.
Each season I promise myself to prune it and each season I'm glad that I didn't get the job done. And the hummingbirds love it since they can perch inside its sheltering leaves and branches.
I see a hummer perched on the topmost branch of our ornamental pear tree.
He looks around, then continues preening ...the long bill straightens the feathers down his chest ...now along his wing. Now he's still for a moment. And then gone — flying south, toward our trumpet vine. So I walk to our south window where I can get a close-up view.
There: on a higher branch looking around. Now he zips down to a lower branch ...stops to look around. Then he flutters over to one of the large flowers — the bird is about the same size as the flower! My black-chinned hummingbird is less than four inches long and has a wingspan less than eight inches.
We're always amazed at how small birds are, especially hummers. This bird weighs in at 0.12 ounces! And yet it migrates from as far north as British Columbia to southern California to Texas and South America. Black-chins can be found in a wide range of habitats: canyon bottoms in early summer, higher elevations during summer, chaparral, and foothill suburbs — wherever there's food to be found.
In our area, the black-chin is most common, while a similar bird, the broad-tail, occurs in our higher elevations. Both of these little birds have dark heads and can easily be mistaken. The black-chin appears to be "black-chinned" while the broad-tail has a reddish throat.
In the summer, I've had numerous calls about someone seeing a ruby-throated hummer, but those birds appear to occur only on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.
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Now my hummer settles down on an inside branch, and I have a perfect view. The back is metallic green, there's a white area between the light-colored belly and the dark chin. The feet are so tiny that I can barely see them! Now he's gone again, but I revel in the brief encounter.