Date: 7/19/22 8:55 am
From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...>
Subject: ARE ARKANSAS VIOLETEARS OVERSHOT MIGRANTS?

We now have seven good records for Mexican Violetear in Arkansas. These span the period from early June to mid-September, but 5 of 7 records involve second week of July to second half of August, with July most (3 records July 7-21).
I had formerly assumed these must be birds wandering north after the breeding season, but now I’m not so sure, especially after reading what I have pasted below. It seems possible birds that reach Arkansas may be associated with the northernmost populations of Mexican Violetears that migrate north to their breeding areas in July. I was especially impressed that most of the Arkansas records are from the forested Ozarks that may in some respects resemble possible breeding habitat for inexperienced birds that overshoot in migration. This is all just wild speculation on my part. But interesting …
The following is from Wilson Bulletin (now Wilson Journal of Ornithology), vol 57, no. 3 (September 1946) “NOTESON THE LIFE HISTORY MEXICAN VIOLET-EAR” by HELMUTH 0. WAGNER:
“The Mexican Violet-ear (Colibri thalassinus) is primarily a bird of the mountain forest. Its breeding habitat in the mountains surrounding the Valle de Mexico is the oak-pine-cypress forest. Since the destruction of the forest and the cultivation of the land, the Violet-ear has adapted itself in some degree to the new environment. In its northern range the Mexican Violet-ear is in part a migratory bird. The females, the young, and a varying percentage of the adult males go south in October and early November and return to their breeding range in July … Environmental conditions greatly influence the percentage of males that migrate; as well as the time that migration takes place. According to reports from 1873 and 1874, all Violet-ears then migrated in winter. The non-migratory males usually stay as vagrants in the fir forest (2,900to 3,500 meters) at places where there are flowering plants even in winter. In dry winters, however, all the males leave the area by the second half of February. Immediately after their return in July, the females begin building the nest.”


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