Yes, Virginia, there are still hummingbirds around

But they're only stopping by on their way south

 
 
  • Stopping for fuel on its way to Mexico for the winter is a rufous hummingbird, quite a rare sight for Illinois.

    Stopping for fuel on its way to Mexico for the winter is a rufous hummingbird, quite a rare sight for Illinois. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • The rufous hummingbird is noted for its rufous coloring on his chest and the base of the tail. Rufous means reddish.

    The rufous hummingbird is noted for its rufous coloring on his chest and the base of the tail. Rufous means reddish.

  • Good thing the upright fuchsias in this Glenview yard still had about 50 blooms on it Monday. The 0.10-ounce bird needs all the fuel it can get for its 3,900-mile journey to Mexico, which potentially started in Alaska.

    Good thing the upright fuchsias in this Glenview yard still had about 50 blooms on it Monday. The 0.10-ounce bird needs all the fuel it can get for its 3,900-mile journey to Mexico, which potentially started in Alaska.

Published: 11/6/2008 11:53 AM

By November, this area has typically seen the last of the common ruby-throated hummingbird. It has usually made its way south by now

So when Daily Herald photographer George LeClaire found this hummingbird Monday, munching on the upright hybrid fuchsia in his Glenview back yard, he took notice - and some captivating images.

His excitement grew, however, after he shipped the images off to Tim Joyce, manager of Wild Birds Unlimited in Arlington Heights and Glenview.

Joyce reports that the hummingbird is actually the rufous hummingbird, one with few reported sightings in this area, though it occasionally will "wander into our area during fall migration."

The hardy birds are known to nest across the western states and up into Alaska, he said. Which means, of course, this reddish colored bird, possibly from Alaska - a Palin operative? - visited a blue state the day before Election Day.

So, how can you tell it's a rufous hummingbird? By its rufous color, of course, which in layman's terms means reddish. The color will mark the sides of the chest and stomach and the base of the tail.

The rufous hummingbird makes one of the longest migratory journeys of any bird in the world, as measured by body size. Its 3,900-mile journey from Alaska to Mexico is equivalent to 784,500 body lengths.

It is 3 to 4 inches long with a wingspan of 4 inches and weighs one-tenth of an ounce.

&bull Editor's note: After publication, a math error was found in the story. The hummingbird's 3,9000-mile journey actually is closer to 78.4 million body lengths.