A nearly all-white ruby-throated hummingbird caught the eye of Betty Timmreck of Berrien Township on Sept. 18, when Timmreck noticed it at her hummingbird feeder. Several photos were taken of the hummingbird.
Albino birds and animals usually signify lack of genetic diversity, which in turn often results in a below-average life span. I wondered about Timmreck’s albino hummingbird, if it was an adult or juvenile. So, I asked Allen Chartier, director of the Great Lakes Hummernet project, which studies hummingbirds in the region and elsewhere, about albino hummingbirds.
Chartier said: “A hummingbird bander from Oklahoma banded quite a few albinos, and tracked those banded by others, for over 20 years. I think that maybe 200 or 300 were banded. All of them were hatch-year birds, not a single adult. And not a single banded albino hummingbird returned the next spring. So, as you might expect, a white hummingbird has a very low chance of surviving to adulthood.”
The ruby-throated hummingbirds we see in Southwest Michigan from late September onward are usually migrants that have nested north of here and are now headed to the southern U.S., south to Central America and northern South America where they winter. Our resident ruby-throated hummingbirds that nest locally have already departed south.
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbirds are the first to depart southward, beginning in July and August. Adult females leave in August and September, followed by young which hatched this year.
The great majority of ruby-throated hummingbirds will have vacated Michigan by Oct. 20, but a few may linger until November.
James and Karen Shymkus reported that a belted kingfisher recently flew into their sliding glass door, which overlooks Paw Paw Lake in Watervliet Township. James was able to snap a photo of this stunned bird, which stayed on the ground about 20 minutes before it regained its senses and flew away.
Belted kingfishers are more abundant in Southwest Michigan from March through November, after which they become scarce. Most migrate to our south, but no farther than the southern U.S. in the east. A few over winter in the southern half of Michigan, especially around open water.
On Sept. 15, a Nashville warbler, while en route from Canada or northern Michigan to its wintering grounds of Mexico and Central America, hit the window of Troy and Lori Thompson of Royalton Township. Fortunately the bird was only stunned and as it recuperated on the Thompsons’ deck, Lori took some photos of the bird.
Nashville warblers are fairly common in our woods during spring and fall. They are most common during the last ten days of September through early October. They reappear in southern Michigan during late April.
Jonathan Wuepper is an area naturalist. Report your sightings to him at email@example.com.