Northern Sea Otters of Kachemak Bay in Homer, AK spend most of their lives in the water. While they often are seen holding hands to prevent them from drifting away from the raft, this one is perfectly content to snooze and bask in the the morning sun without grasping another otter’s hands.
Sometimes the less aggressive hummingbirds sat out the frenzy surrounding the feeders in Madera Canyon. The larger hummers, like this Blue-throated Mountain Gem didn’t participate in the almost constant territorial dispute as the smaller birds, especially the Broad-billed Hummingbirds. They would occasionally take a break and survey the situation from a short distance away. When they visited the feeders, the frenzy had usually calmed a bit.
Hummingbirds are usually very small and and very fast. The Blue-throated Mountain Gem is an exception. Until last year, it was called the Blue-throated Hummingbird. It is the largest hummingbird in North America and it has noticeably slower wingbeats. Of course it can disappear in an instant as all hummers do but this beautiful bird seemed to hover and move more slowly than the smaller hummers in Madera Canyon and we had more time to focus on it than most of the other hummers there.
The first time I visited Madera Canyon several years ago, I saw my first Magnificent Hummingbird. He was stunningly gorgeous and more than twice the size of the other hummers. We started calling him Mr. Wonderful whenever he appeared at the feeders or was perched nearby. A few years ago, the Magnificent Hummingbird was renamed the Rivoli’s Hummingbird when it was determined there were really two species. The Rivoli’s lives from Nicaragua north to southern Arizona. In my mind, he’s still Mr. Wonderful.
The little Allen’s Hummingbird hovers in place, wings a blur.
The Broad-billed hummers were the most dominant species at the feeders in Madera Canyon.
The most common hummingbird in my backyard is the Anna’s Hummingbird and in Arizona, it was one of the most elusive. We even saw the magnificent Rivoli’s more often than we saw the little Anna’s.
The Allen’s Hummingbird is a new species for me. I think that others have seen the Allen’s on previous visits to Madera Canyon but I had not set eyes on one until the last day of our time there this year. And, for the first time, this little Allen’s kept returning to the feeders and that gave me an opportunity to photograph it. What a cutie and how different in color from all of the other hummingbirds I’ve photographed so far.
Broad-billed Hummingbirds were bullies at the feeders in Madera Canyon. They were the overwhelming majority at the feeders and they harassed and chased any other hummers feeding, Broad-billed as well as the other species there. But the Broad-billed Hummingbirds were no match for the honeybees. They were intimidated by the bees that swarmed on and around some of the feeders in great numbers, completely covering the feeding ports. It was not unusual to see a hummer suddenly back away from a feeder as one or more bees got too close.
We’ve seen eight species of hummingbirds in our short stay in Madera Canyon, AZ. One of the largest hummingbirds, the Blue-throated Hummingbird, AKA Blue-throated Mountain-gem according to Sibley Birds v.2, is one of the largest hummingbirds, more than four and a half inches in length. When this Mountain-gem arrived at the feeders its larger size made it instantly recognizable. Because it lacks the blue throat, this is a female or possibly a juvenile Blue-throated Mountain-gem. This gem made frequent visits to the feeders and would hover near them to give us time to photograph it. Then it would perch in the trees surrounding the area keeping an eye on the feeders while it waited to revisit them a few minutes later.