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#ABArare – Costa’s Hummingbird – Florida

The unprecedented invasion of Razorbills in Florida is major news. Almost every post to the state’s listservs is about it. The story has been so dominant that even the state’s first Costa’s Hummingbird, which is visiting a backyard feeder in Tallahassee, is having a hard time getting noticed.

The Costa’s Hummingbird was “discovered” on Dec 13 when it was banded by Fred Dietrich, but it was actually first noted but not identified about two weeks earlier. The homeowners, Tom and Carol Yarborough, thought a Rufous Hummingbird and Ruby-throated Hummingbird were visiting their feeder. Dietrich attempted to band them on Dec 8, but the birds were feeding mostly at flowers and catching bugs. They did not enter the traps. Dietrich did not get a good look at the “Ruby-throated”, but he thought it could be a Black-chinned.

ABArare Costas Shunke
photo by Elliot Schunke

Dietrich returned on Dec 13 for another banding attempt, and this time, the hummingbird readily went into the trap and began to feed. Still assuming it was a Black-chinned, Deitrich went to remove it from the trap after it finished feeding, and he immediately noticed the coloration was different than that of a Black-chinned, so his next thought was that it could be a Calliope (he’s banded four of those within the past year). It wasn’t until he had the bird in hand that he noticed violet feathers in the crown that he realized it might be a Costa’s. He sent a photo to fellow bander and hummingbird guru Fred Bassett who confirmed that it was indeed a first-year male Costa’s.

ABArare Costas Dietrich
photo by Fred Dietrich

The homeowners are welcoming birders to come and view the bird. It is at 6730 Walden Circle on the east side of Tallahassee. From US 90 just west of I-10, take Walden Rd south to Walden Circle. The feeders are in the backyard which can be entered through the gate to the left side of the house. The bird visits the feeder nearest the inside of the gate, though there are three other feeders and a good deal of flowers inside the backyard, too. Many have had to wait hours for the bird to make an appearance and a few have missed it. The last reported sighting was Dec 19, but as I said, the Razorbill invasion has kept most Florida birders occupied elsewhere.

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John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
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