In a garden near the McKenzie River in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, a downpour pummels the landscape. Imagine a Rufous Hummingbird, like this male, out and about, extracting nectar, searching for gnats and aphids. A hummingbird's stamina against the heavy rain is marvelous. Consider this: its body is nine and a half centimeters long; the average raindrop is about four millimeters. That would be like a person 5'8" being pounded by a torrent of raindrops each three inches across. Incredible!
A Rufous in the Rain
By Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Heavy rain – and flowing river]
In a garden near where the McKenzie River rushes out of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, a downpour pummels crimson-flowered currants, salmonberries, red columbine and native rhododendrons.
Evening draws near, and I’ve taken shelter from the deluge. To my surprise, a female Rufous Hummingbird is still out and about, extracting nectar, searching for gnats and aphids. [Bring in wing whir of Rufous Hummingbird] No doubt, she’s feeding two nestlings that await her return to their tiny nest hidden in a Sitka Spruce or Douglas fir. She’ll feed them every half hour for fifteen to twenty days. As night comes on, the feedings must increase. [Wing whir of Rufous Hummingbird + in the rain]
Rufous Hummingbirds migrate mostly from Mexico, arriving in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, as early as March. By July, as higher elevations warm, they’ll turn south again, to follow a “floral highway” along the Rockies. [Bring in wing whir of Rufous Hummingbird]. This little bird will need to build her own energy reserves for this trip, soon. [Rufous Hummingbird]
I marvel at her stamina against the heavy rain. Think about it – her body is nine and a half centimeters long; the average raindrop is about four millimeters. That would be like a person five foot eight being pounded by a torrent of raindrops each three inches across.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Wing whirring of Anna’s Hummingbird  recorded by A.A. Allen.
Rain and river sounds (Essentials #12, #20) were recorded by Gordon Hempton and provided courtesy of QuietPlanet.com.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org June 2017 Narrator: Mary McCann