Not long ago, the only hummingbird that someone living in the eastern United States and Canada could hope to see was the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. But things have changed. Today, more and more hummingbird species — such as this Broad-tailed Hummingbird — have been discovered beyond their “normal” ranges. Why is this colorful explosion happening now? Climate change is one possible factor. So are shifts in migration routes. Or it could just be that more people are on the lookout for these relative newcomers.
Today’s show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation.
Western Hummingbirds, East
Written by Rick Wright
This is BirdNote.
Not that long ago, the only hummingbird someone living in the eastern United States and Canada could hope to see was the familiar little Ruby-throated Himmingbird. [Ruby-throated hummingbird chips and wing noises]
But things have changed. Over the past couple of decades, more and more western and tropical hummingbird species have been discovered far out of what used to be considered their “normal” range. Especially in winter, and especially at feeders. [Green Violetear song]
Historically western hummingbirds of the Broad-billed, Calliope, and Broad-tailed species could turn up at wintertime sugar-water dispensers virtually across the continent. The real prizes nowadays are the dazzling vagrants from Central and South America, every one as exotically beautiful as its name: Green Violetear, Green-breasted Mango, Bahama Woodstar.
As for why this colorful explosion is happening now, it’s hard to pin down. Climate change is one possible factor. So are shifts in migration routes. Or it could just be that more people are on the lookout for these relative newcomers.
Whatever the reasons, keep your eyes and ears open this winter. You just might chance upon a glittering, glistening visitor never before seen in your area.
For BirdNote I’m Mary McCann.
Today’s show brought to you by the Bobolink foundation.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Ruby-throated hummingbird  by Geoffrey A. Keller; green violetear  by Walter A. Thurber.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, “Flight of the Bumblebee” (Tsar Saltan). Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Greatest Hits. RCA Records 1991.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org November 2015 Narrator: Mary McCann