Today was quite the exciting day at our HMN hummingbird banding event in Idaho City!
It was starting to warm up and capture rate was slowing down when a volunteer brought a hummingbird over to the banding table and said that Gary (one of our skilled trappers) wanted us to take a look at it. Liz peered at the bird though the bag and we could hear the excitement in her voice. Soon everyone was gathered around to take a look at the adult male hummingbird buzzing around in the bag. What had Gary caught?
We first noticed the throat. It had somewhat pointed feathers like a Calliope but wasn’t streaked. The color was an unusual magenta, somewhere in between pink and purple. And unlike a Black-chinned it had iridescence covering most of the throat.
As we continued to look at the bird we noticed more and more unusual features. It had a mix of gray and buffy on the sides, its tail had some hints of rufous in it, and it’s wing feathers looked like a Black-chinned (for hummingbird nerds: it also had unequal primary widths like a Black-chin, and the central tail feathers were mostly rounded but with a hint of ‘spatulate’ shaping). It’s wing length was small like a Calliope, but it’s bill was long like a Black-chinned.
After lots of examination and measurements, we decided we must have a Hybrid Black-chinned x Calliope on our hands! Interestingly, after a quick google search it appears that a very similar bird was captured and photographed in Garden Valley, ID in 2008. View photos of the 2008 hybrid.
We were very lucky to have a bunch of photographers on hand to document this rarity! Check back on this post later as we will continue to add photos from other folks who were there.