You may be wondering why I have submitted a picture of a hummingbird in November! Well, believe it or not, there have been one or two hummers in the West Kootenay this month. This picture is of an Anna’s Hummingbird – not the more common Rufous Hummingbird that visits our feeders in the summer. The Rufous Hummer is a very strict migrant, by the end of August they have gone south. Very rarely have I seen any in September. Anna’s, on the other hand, are apparently much more tolerant of colder weather
Historically, this species was seen only further south in the western US. The first BC records occurred in the 1940’s, on southern Vancouver Island, – in the winter! The species is basically non-migratory, although there is a little bit of downslope movement in California in winter. There is also some expansion into Baja California in winter. Since that first BC sighting, numbers have been increasing steadily. But it was not until well into the 1970’s that the species was first reported from the interior of the province. Most interior records have come from the Okanagan but there are a scattering of reports from such far-flung places as Prince George, Prince Rupert and even the far northwest corner of BC. There are a few Kootenay records. The first was in 1978 when one arrived in Silverton in November, (this individual was taken into the house by Nancy Anderson and given its “own room” for the winter!). In November 2012, one was visiting feeders in Fauquier for a week or so. And a couple of years ago, one made a brief visit to my feeders in Nakusp, (this is the only spring record I know of for the West Kootenay).
The first breeding record for the province was in 1958 near Duncan. Since then breeding has become a regular occurrence on southern Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and in parts of the Okanagan.
Anna’s Hummingbirds are well known for their post-breeding dispersal, that is, they tend to wander around after the breeding season. This is not a migration; they don’t go in any particular direction.
During the last week or two there have been reports of an Anna’s Hummingbird from both Lardeau and Kaslo, (perhaps the same bird). The Fauquier bird, and the two recent Kootenay Lake birds have all been immature birds; that is, birds that were raised during this last summer. There is some evidence to suggest that it is often the young birds that wander in the fall.
One of the residents reporting the bird at their feeder asked whether or not their feeders were preventing the bird from leaving and therefore doing more harm than good. But since this is essentially a non-migratory species, I doubt very much whether the feeders had anything to do with the random wanderings of these birds. When they decided to strike out for places unknown, they couldn’t possible know where late feeders were going to be! However, once they get here, the feeders will certainly make their lives easier!!