A few weeks ago I suggested that folks leave their hummingbird feeders up all winter. The reason for this is that some species of hummingbirds are more likely to show up in our area during the winter months.
There are some Western species of hummingbirds that have increasingly been choosing the Southeastern United States as their winter region. The birds typically begin showing up in mid- to late November. Some birds are undoubtedly already at feeders now.
If you are currently seeing a hummingbird or observe one from now through mid-March please let me know. A photo just good enough to identify the bird would also be helpful.
The most common species we’re seeing is the rufous hummingbird, usually females or immatures. There are other possibilities, however. Ten species of hummingbird have been documented in North Carolina and five have been documented from Mecklenburg County. So keep an eye on those feeders, and keep them filled.
I have also mentioned that there may be some unusual birds showing up at feeders this winter. The latest report about winter finch numbers has referred to this winter as a “superflight” year for all finches. Pine siskins and purple finches can be expected, but be aware of the possibilities for red crossbills, white-winged crossbills, redpolls and evening grosbeaks.
It has been close to 50 years since red crossbills invaded Mecklenburg County, and close to 20 years since evening grosbeaks put in an appearance. Recognize crossbills by their bills that have the upper and lower mandibles bent and twisted into an “X” shape; an adaptation that aids them in extracting seeds from the cones of pines and other conifers. Evening grosbeaks will resemble huge American goldfinches. Consult a field guide to familiarize yourself with these birds.
All indications are that it will be a very interesting winter. Let me know what you are seeing. All reports are appreciated.