Foam Lake Birding No. 140



            After a week of heavy but badly needed rain the sun has finally come out.  The drought ending moisture and the rising temperatures in the high 20s have caused the various shrubs and trees to start leafing out.  Spring has arrived but some of the Mexican birds like the Whistling Ducks have not yet come back to their northern limits here in Texas.  That should take place in a couple of weeks or so. 

            This week I am featuring a permanent resident that occurs north of Mexico only in this southern tip of Texas.  The Buff Bellied Hummingbird is common around here and a hummingbird feeder will easily attract several birds.  It is the only hummer that is regularly seen here save for the Rufous and Ruby Throats that pass through here during spring migration as they head north as far as Canada.  There are a few more rare strays from Mexico that show up here occasionally but I have not seen any of them yet. 

            Compared to the Ruby Throat found on the Canadian prairies the Buff Bellied is quite a bit larger but not so much that it is noticeable In the field.  What is different are the males’ throat feathers (gorget).  The Buff Bellied has a bright green throat while the Ruby Throated had a deep red (ruby) one.  In good light both gorgets sparkle with their respective colours.  Another difference is the shape and colour of the bills.  The Buff Bellied has a down curved red bill tipped with black; the Ruby Throat has a straight black bill.  Like many hummers both are essentially green with the above noted differences. 

            This week’s picture was taken several years ago in the Frontera Audubon thicket just above a water feature.  The field marks noted above are not clearly shown but I hope to have a better picture on my website in the near future. Jan. 3rd, 2013:  including a photo of a male sitting in a tree.