Winter guest returns to delight of local bird lover
Local hummingbird enthusiast and butterfly expert, Mary Ann Friedman of Niceville is excited about a winter guest she has coming to her yard year after year. A Rufous Hummingbird, nicknamed “Ruferocious” has been returning to Mary Ann’s yard each winter for seven years.
“We call her Ruferocious because she is pretty possessive and usually kicks any other would be winter hummingbirds out in a very short time. Before she started “living” here we had several species each winter (Buff-bellied, Black-chinned and Ruby-throated) that chose our yard,” Mary Ann explains.
Although Mary Ann is not 100 percent sure, she is confident Ruferioucious is the same bird. A bird banding expert will come to her yard later this year to verify.
“I’m sure it is her because of the band that is visible on her right leg. Also the pattern on the gorge – it is “her” and she has taken up her position perched over her favorite feeder,” Mary Ann added.
As several hummingbirds do stay in the Florida Panhandle during the winter, people interested in attracting the birds can put up feeders when flowers are not in bloom.
Mary Ann’s recipe for feeders:
People who wish to host them need to put FRESH nectar made of 1/4 cup sugar (plain white sugar, no substitutes) to one cup water. Keep the feeder fresh, changing sugar water every few days and keeping them free of mold and insect intruders (ant soup). Leaving old nectar and moldy feeders up can be harmful to the hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds seen between November and early March can be reported to Fred Bassett, a certified hummingbird bander. Fred will come to your home and band your winter hummingbird and add the information on your bird to the Hummer/Bird Study Group data. You may even get to hold a hummingbird if he is able to capture it. He does not harm the bird in any way. Fred Bassett may be contacted via email at: Fhound@aol.com or Hummer/Bird Study Group at www.hummingbirdsplus.org
During the warmer months, Mary Ann, an expert on butterflies, does PowerPoint presentations to local garden clubs when she is not busy doing field studies for an FWC grant with the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). For more information on MaryAnn’s presentations, you may contact her at 850-729-2893.