Paradise Lost

It’s pretty common while watching hummingbirds to observe a confrontation between them as some members of the species are quite aggressive, so I was a little confused when I saw this encounter yesterday.

Despite my best attempts to take pictures of such confrontations, I’ve never managed to get my camera to focus on two different hummingbirds at the same time. This one from yesterday is about the best I’ve managed:

Two Hummingbirds Meet

Strangely enough, neither seemed particularly aggressive toward the other, though it’s rare this time of year to see a hummingbird tolerate another hummingbird anywhere near the crocosmia.

Instead of one driving the other off, they both flew to telephone lines above the flowers and sat there calmly for quite awhile.

probably Anna's Hummingbird

juvenile Rufous Hummingbird

Considering the size and color differences, I wondered if it was a parent and its offspring, which set off a quick search of the internet, despite some obvious differences in colors.

Instead of solving the question, my search raised more questions than answers. The more I read, though, the more I suspect that these were actually two different species, an Anna’s on the top and a Rufous on the bottom, probably a female Rufous, or possibly a juvenile.

I can definitely tell a male Rufous, at least in breeding colors, from a male Anna’s, but I’m beginning to think that I probably have been confusing the females and juveniles of the two species. If so, most of the hummingbirds I’ve seen in my yard are female Rufous, thought I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a picture of a male Rufous in breeding colors in the yard. I’ve only managed to do that out on the refuges I visit regularly.

I’d like to just go back to admiring hummingbirds for their beauty and their ability to defy gravity rather than worrying about identifying them. Unfortunately, I’ve found it impossible to return to that blissful state of ignorance that once blessed my life, though at moments I can still get lost in beauty.

Rufous Hummingbird