Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Calliope Hummingbirds


August 1, 2018

Doug Harling

"Little Star" was the name given to this Hummingbird. This beautiful little Hummingbird's greek name is (Stelasporus Calliope) and was once considered part of the (Stellula) group of Hummingbirds where it was named after the Greek muse Calliope meaning "little star"!

This Hummingbird is native to Canada and North America. This is the smallest breeding bird found in Canada and North America. The only smaller bird ever found in America was a Bumblebee Hummingbird but it was thought to be out of its normal grounds in Mexico. This was my first time seeing and photographing these little beauties. These images were taken in Cuchara, Colorado a couple of weeks ago. Although I've not seen them in El Paso County, I have friends who have, so keep your eyes peeled.

The breeding habitat for the Calliope Hummingbird is very widespread among open thick shrub areas of North America. Nesting in our area is less common. Calliope Hummingbirds seen in our area tend to nest in higher altitudes of the Rocky Mountains. Cheyenne Mountain would be a good place to see them or wait for the migration to begin and you should see some stop by your feeders. Hummingbirds in general tend to get more active around feeders this time year, to get as much fat stored up as their tiny bodies can store. I even start to change my feed mixture about this time of year. Instead of the normal 4 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar, I boost the sugar to 1-1/4 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water. This helps give the Hummingbirds a little extra energy for the long migration. Remember, fir many of the hummingbirds that will migrate this year will be their first journey. New Hummingbirds and Hummingbirds getting ready for migration, account for seeing more of them than you see most of the year.

There is no real way to attract a specific type of Hummingbird to your feeders. They either show up or they don't. Always having food out is the surest way to start getting repeat visitors. Some people put out feeders and don't see anything for a few weeks and they just give up. If a Hummingbird stops by your yard and finds good healthy flowers it can feed on and maybe a couple of feeders you have put up, they are sure to stop by again. If they stop and there is no food, chances are they will never stop again.

As I wrote in last week's column, the Rufous Hummingbird is the first to head out on migration and in many areas this has already started. The Calliope Hummingbird will stick around a bit longer to enjoy the longer lasting mountain wildflowers. With the extra moisture this year, the wildflowers should be plentiful. I also mentioned how aggressive the Rufous Hummingbirds are and with those little bullies gone, other Hummingbirds are more likely to show up at back yard feeders that were dominated during the summer.

The male Calliope Hummingbird usually leaves the breeding area by the time the eggs hatch. The male will play no part in feeding and raising the babies. This will also explain why you may often see several male Calliope Hummingbirds at a feeder and not a single female. Female Hummingbirds of all breeds can look very similar and are much harder to tell apart than the males are. When you get several different kinds of Hummingbirds coming to your feeders, you may find it difficult to know the breed of the females. Don't assume that if you see a male and a female Hummingbird together at a feeder that the female is the same species as the male. Males are much more tolerant of other species females than they are of other males.


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