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Friday, May 29, 2015

Hummer Heaven

Love this rustic sign
First, get your mind out of the gutter. Now, on my way to Sierra Vista, I GPS'd my way to a premier Hummingbird site for the U.S. of A, the Audubon Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia, AZ. The Paton Center is so v. cool. Once-upon-a-birding-festival, I watched Mrs. Paton doing her rounds. The Patons had umpteen hummingbird feeders hung around the perimeter of their ranch style house. Mrs. P no sooner filled all the feeders, then it was time for her to heave a heavy sigh. It was time to start over again because the first feeder was yet again, sitting on empty.

I guess she didn't mind because the Paton's yard hosted as many as fifteen species of hummingbirds which you must admit is pretty damned impressive. Because their hearts were two sizes too big, the Patons set up a shaded tent so birders could sit in comfort, binoculars aimed at the dozens and dozens of hummers battling over ownership of the feeders. Would you let dozens of strange and colorful hummingbirds... I mean, birders sit around all day in your back yard? The Paton's did so which is why they deserve to have their name attached to this now best beloved Hummingbird heaven.
Yet another smug Broad-billed Hummingbird
Today, it was the non-hummer sorts that caught my initial attention. Ladder-backed Woodpeckers which for the life of me looked more like Nuttal's to me, scrounged up and down tree limbs. Numerous Gambel's Quail roamed about. Another birder tried to get me onto some quail chicks but I couldn't see the camouflaged little buggers to save my life.
Not ladder-backed enough for my comfort

When I did pay attention to the hummers they were dog-fighting like the Kaiser was watching.
Take that you shiny green nectar thief!
There were scarlet feathered types about.

Summer Tanager
Songs and looks have no better representative than the Cardinal
One of the reasons I was set on visiting Paton's was I haven't laid eyes on a Violet-crowned Hummingbird since 1999. So I sat in this Hummingbird haven with high hopes. The birder who tried to get me 'on' to the quail chicks asked jovially, if he could 'wish up' a special bird or two for me. I turned to him and whined, "Well if you could find me a nice Violet-crowned Hummingbird it'd be nice." I turned my head around and guess what was sitting on a feeder, staring at me? I'm surprised the explosion of laughter didn't scare the thing off...
This Violet-crowned Hummer was apparently awaiting it's cue to enter stage right
Hurrah! How lovely to see such a gorgeous little mite. I wish the lighting had been less shady, but oh well, better shaded pics than none at all.

Violet-crowns, male & females, look alike
That's a quick look at the Paton's Hummingbird center. Then it was on to Sierra Vista and a little more birding before I head back home.

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