I knew our Extension office was a popular place, but this week has brought a whole new level of visitation to our beautiful grounds! The area surrounding our office has been all “a twitter” (excuse the poor pun) with people bedecked with binoculars and cameras. Birders of all sorts have descended upon Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota in search of the Rufous Hummingbird, also known as Selasphorus rufus.
Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
The rufous hummingbird is an uncommon sighting in our area, with multiple SRQ bird alerts going out earlier this week of sightings and photos of this regal species here at Twin Lakes Park. Birders have been milling about the Park, outside our office, and in our pollinator garden searching for a fleeting sight of such a spectacular species.
Phenomenally feisty and flighty
Males are bright orange, while females sport plumage of orange and green. This species is fiesty and territorial, attacking other species of hummingbirds and even small mammals like squirrels. They are only about 3 inches long, and may beat their tiny wings up to 60x a second as they travel almost 4,000 miles during migration. They are more common in the west, breeding as far north as Alaska and migrating as far south as Mexico, but occasionally show up along the Gulf Coast and Southeastern US coast during the winter.During migration,they may stop and rest in an area for 1-2 weeks before continuing their journey south.
This species will visit hummingbird feeders, but enjoy tubular flowers of plants such as fireweed, which we have planted about our grounds. They also get protein to fuel their frantic flight from eating small flying insects and aphids. Learn more about what to plant to make your yard hummingbird friendly: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/UW059
With any luck, come visit our Sarasota County Extension office and see what treasures you may find. Don’t forget to stop in and ask a Master Gardener at the plant desk for help, or let us know if you sight one of these beautiful, yet feisty, birds! Good luck!
For more info on Rufous hummingbirds: