Magnificent Hummingbird with green gorget flashing.
Magnificent Hummingbird in a pine tree. 8-16-09
On Sunday Gus and I took a drive up Mt Lemmon, a 9000 ft mountain located at the northeast side of Tucson in the Catalina Mountains. A drive up the Catalina Highway starts in the Sonoran Desert with towering saguaros. As we head up the highway the temperature is already 98 degrees F at noontime. As the road follows the steep switchbacks higher and higher we watch the temperature gauge drop and the terrain around us changes from sonoran desert to mountain pine forest. By the time we reach the Palisades Visitor Center the temperature has dropped to 77 degrees!
Today Gus is taking the photos as I have injured my left arm trying to put away a suitcase on a shelf high overhead and strained my rotator cuff. I am alright but the gist of the matter is, I can't use my left arm. So Gus is doing all the photography today. That's fine by me. I am pleased that he is with me and that he finds pleasure in photographing the birds. We scurry out of the car, for the Plaisades Visitor Center is well known as a great location to see a Magnificent hummingbird. If I do see one here it will be a *Life Bird for me.
We take up positions on the deck of the visitor center and watch as broad-tailed hummingbirds and rufous buzz and whizz by. They land at the feeder in groups and drive each other away fiercely. Then suddenly a large black looking hummer lands on the perch, dwarfing the rest of the birds. In the shadows he appears black but then the sunlight bounces off his throat and the lime green gorget flashes like a neon sign. After drinking a moment he flies off into the nearby pine tree and lands on a slim twig. I watch with mouth agape as the smaller hummers dive past him and he flashes his feathers once again. This time I see not only the lime green gorget, but the purple crown feathers on his head. Is there any wonder they named this bird "Magnificent?"