By Bob Walker
OK, let’s be diplomatic. Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) have lots of personality. To put it mildly, they are bossy. These early fall migrants arrive in Los Alamos around July 4, and immediately attempt to hog all available food resources for their very own, chasing away other larger hummingbird competition with abundant attitude. Some Rufous Hummingbirds nest farther north than any other North American hummingbird, as far as southern Alaska. By mid-October, ours have departed for the winter, which they spend in southern Mexico, except for a growing population of them that have discovered the U.S. Gulf Coast, where they are being seen with increasing likelihood.
The bright orange color of the males makes them easy to distinguish from our other hummers. The females and the juveniles are another matter. Adult females usually have a few iridescent orange feathers on the central part of their gorget, and they all tend to have more rufous coloration on their sides and rumps than other hummingbirds. It is almost impossible to tell juvenile males from juvenile females unless you perform measurements that require you to be holding the bird (as bird banders do). The picture below is of an adult female.