Date: 1/11/18 7:59 am From: <susan...> Subject: RE: northernmost Ruby-throateds
Dear John ad All,
Let me just say that hummingbirds are special creatures for sure-- something to marvel at winter or summer. Anyone who is lucky enough to host one (or more) at this time of the year is certainly going to have concerns about their well being-- and that has included me in the past....
I expect that there are Archilochus hummingbirds at feeders north of Buxton in Dare County. As hummingbirds go, they are not terrifically cold hardy but we know that they can persist in maritime forest without easy access to feeders so they are not as fragile as one might imagine. But on the flip side, I would not be surprised if densities may have been affected down into northeastern SC to some degree.
Please note that, regardless of the weather, hummers along the coast move around a great deal. I have found this to be the case as a direct result of my winter banding work over the years. So, not seeing hummers does not mean that they have perished. And I am aware of some hosts who have just had birds show up at their feeders this week-- and expect new arrivals to continue for the remainder of the season.
Each season there is a period of colder weather down east that changes the situation at people's feeders to some degree. And I am sure that every winter there are some hummingbirds that do not survive, even if the winter is not that harsh. A certain amount of mortality of immature or older birds in particular is inevitable. But the habitat along the Carolina coast (being relatively warm, wet and lush with evergreen vegetation) remains excellent for hummingbirds year round, feeders or not.
We will not know if there has been a significant impact on the wintering population until early next winter.