Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Rufous" Hummingbird, Lenoir Preserve

Vagrant western hummingbirds are what spurred my whole web site development in the first place. My first home page was a precursor to what is now located at and was prompted by the first Rufous Hummingbird I saw at Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers in November 2001. That was the same year as the Fort Tryon Calliopes.

So it was natural that I wanted to go check out the latest hummingbird vagrant at Lenoir, even if Yonkers is a lot further away from home than it used to be. It took me a little while to find the Selasphorus sp. hummingbird, but it was probably sleeping or torpid before the sun started hitting the trees and butterfly garden. Once things started to warm up I saw it spending most of its time insect catching in the trees and the garden as the sun started to hit it. It spent some time in the Salvia Pineapple Sage at the edge of the garden, and a small amount of time at one of the feeders. From plumage the bird was an immature female, but this hummingbird was fairly shy and I didn't get anything remotely like a tail spread shot. The consensus is that it is a Rufous Hummingird (now apparently confirmed), although the staffer at the visitor center indicated that there was a suspicion that it was an Allen's and would be caught to determine which.

I'm pretty much invariably against capturing vagrant hummingbirds out of pseudo-scientific curiosity because it's not part of any systematic research plan and these birds are under enough stress attempting to survive in alien habitats in deteriorating weather. The cost to the bird is significant, and it tells us almost nothing.

There's a proposal to close Lenoir Preserve visitor center being considered by Westchester County - you could email the County Executive (Robert Astorino, to express your opposition to this plan. The budget vote is apparently Dec 27th 2011, so sooner is better than later. (Updated to reflect the fact that it's apparently the staff that are getting fired rather than the preserve closed to all access).

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