This hummingbird failed to fly south for the winter, so it got a car ride instead


A tiny rufous hummingbird was launched safely in Vancouver late final month after it was discovered flying round Prince George, greater than 500 kilometres north, lengthy after it ought to have migrated for the winter.

The chicken first caught the discover of Clive Keen, an editor with B.C. Birding journal, when his spouse Susan pointed it out in early October.

According to eBird, a web-based useful resource that lets customers report chicken sightings round the world, the newest recorded sighting of a rufous in Prince George up to that time was in September, with most migrating south by the finish of August.

But since the metropolis was having fun with an unusually heat autumn, Keen assumed it was merely ready for the frost to set in earlier than taking off. 

However, when he noticed it once more on Oct. 26 after the metropolis’s first snowfall, with temperatures forecast for -15 C, he began to get apprehensive.

“Clearly, it wasn’t going to survive if it stayed round,” he stated. “I saved considering … ‘Surely, you are going to take the trace and head off south.’ But no, it saved hanging round in my tree.”

So he turned to the on-line birding group to devise a plan worthy of a Looney Tunes cartoon to entice the chicken and transport it to security.

A species in peril

Rufous hummingbirds are certainly one of the smaller species of hummingbird, measuring roughly eight centimetres lengthy and weighing roughly 4 grams when totally grown — or, as Keen places it, “about the quantity of a dime.”

They spend summers in the Pacific Northwest and B.C., in addition to into the Yukon and Alaska, earlier than migrating over 3,200 kilometres to Mexico and elements of the southern United States for the winter.

As a results of this big selection, rufous hummingbirds have been recognized as a high “surrogate species” by researchers at UBC for measuring the impacts of local weather change and habitat loss since their livelihood depends on the well-being of bigger ecosystems.

A rufous hummingbird Keen photographed over the summer time. (Clive Keen)

And there may be concern about their survival: Research from the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, which tracks hummingbird migrations, signifies a fast decline of their numbers. 

Earlier this 12 months, the committee on the standing of endangered wildlife in Canada really helpful they be urgently assessed for attainable inclusion on Canada’s nationwide listing of species in danger.

The entice

All of this meant there was excessive curiosity from birders throughout Canada as Keen supplied updates on his late-season hummingbird in boards and e-mail teams, asking for recommendation about what he ought to do.

Eventually, he got artistic, organising a feeder inside a cage with a string hooked up to the door. Similar to Wile E. Coyote in Roadrunner cartoons, he and his spouse lay in wait, prepared to use the string to pull the cage shut as soon as they acquired their goal.

As snow fell, Clive and Anna Keen devised a entice for the hummingbird so they might transport it south. A bit of string was tied to a cage door, permitting them to rapidly pull it shut as soon as the chicken was lured in by the vivid purple feeder. (Clive Keen)

And identical to the cartoons, the chicken proved elusive — flying close to the cage and sitting on the string, however not really going inside. In all, Keen says, it took 14 hours over two days of watching and ready for the plan to achieve success.

“It was an endurance take a look at.” 

Several folks stated they have been keen to transport the chicken south or chip in for a aircraft ticket, however in the finish, it was Keen’s spouse who made the journey, instantly driving 9 hours to launch the hummingbird in a Vancouver park. 

“What are you able to do?” Susan Keen stated. “You’ve got this tiny factor. If you allow it there, it has no likelihood in any respect.”

She says she discovered a sheltered clump of bushes to place the feeder and launch the hummingbird. The couple hopes it will survive and maybe return to Prince George — which is at present experiencing temperatures under -20 C — as soon as issues heat up subsequent 12 months.

Although it took a lot of labor, Clive Keen says the payoff of getting to assist the chicken and see it up shut was value it.

“I imply, they weigh about the similar quantity as an insect. It’s astonishing that such a factor ought to exist,” he stated.


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