Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-46

Common name:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
Date: 8-29-05
Time: 7:00 PM
Length of time observed: 5 days on and off
Number: 1
Age: Hatch year
Sex: Male
Location: 131 N. Butch Cassidy Trl [Residence in Central]
County: Washington
Distance to bird: Within 10 feet
Optical equipment: 10x42 B&L Elites, 20x60 Zeiss Diascope 85 T FL
Weather: Good
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: Hummingbird size
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Small, slender
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Green and grayish white
(Description:)            Bill Type: Long and thin
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Crown, nape, back and uppertail coverts emerald green with golden feather tips that could be seen depending on the angle of the sunlight. Dark lores and auriculars that contrasted with the white throat. The throat had lines of dark flecks. The flecks were a little more concentrated on the lower throat with a couple gorget feathers that were red. The bird had a white post-ocular spot. There was a white collar below the gorget that extended to the sides of the neck. The breast, belly and undertail coverts were whitish gray.  The sides and the flanks were greenish gray and the rear flanks had a bronze spot on them.  The bird had a quite long forked tail that was green at the base but was mostly black with white tips to the outer rectrices.  The wings were dark. On the perched bird the wing shape was narrow and tapered coming to a point on p10 which was norrower than p9.The inner six primaries were much narrower than the outer four. The bill was dark and looked somewhat short.   (see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: The bird had a twangy chip call and a buzzy chase call that I heard many times but I couldn't tell it apart from the many Black-chinned Hummingbirds that were also around.
Behavior: The bird stayed near one feeder the whole time it was around and was very aggressive to all other hummingbirds. Even chasing off Rufous hummingbirds.
While the bird hovered at the feeder it held it's tail stiff most of the time and didn't persistently wag it like a Black-chinned.
Habitat: Pinion, Juniper habitat.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The shape of the wing with the much narrower inner primaries from p1 to p6 and and the wider outer primaries from p7 to p10 eliminated all other North American Hummingbirds.
The short bill, contrasting throat auricular area, color of the upperparts, long forked tail, shape of p10 and the red gorget feathers eliminated Black-chinned.
All of these mark were subtle but could be seen well through the scope.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen quite a few Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the east and have studied the look a likes in the west extensively.
References consulted: The best Hummingbird book out there Hummingbirds of N. America by N.G. Howell.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Larry Tripp
Observer's address: 131 N. Butch Cassidy Trl
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Rick Fridell, Kevin Wheeler, Steve Hedges and a few birders from the Salt Lake area.
Date prepared: 10-28-05
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: I was lucky this bird liked the feeder close to my bedroom window and allowed me to study it from close range through the scope. If I would have saw this bird in the field I would have probably had to let it go.