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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you.  Snails, fish, insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment.  Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
March 14
San Juan County, Pacific Northwest

This afternoon I saw my first Rufous hummingbird of the year!

Got a couple of pics before he darted away.

rufous male
rufous male
Pictures are pretty dark, being afternoon on a gray day, but clear enough to distinguish him (Selasphorus rufus) from the Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna) who have been feeding from there all winter. More below the fold.

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

These pics of my local Anna's were taken a few days ago, also on a dark gray day, so the dull colors do not do their glorious beauty justice. The sun will be out soon, for that. Male and female.

anna's male adult
anna's juv male
anna's female
I've noticed in the past that the arrival of the Rufous, the males first, from their winter home in southern Mexico, corresponds to the blooming of the Red Flowering Currant. Here's the Currant on March 9 (on left) and today (on right) showing a flower mass that is typical of approximately the half-furthest-along-in-blooming on the bushes.
red flowering currant pre flower
currant flowering
There's also been a big upswing in numbers of flying insects out and about over the last few days, various flies and gnats.

The salmonberry flowers have been out for a month (first blooms noted 2/15). The Anna's feed on them and the odd winter flowers, but also consume a lot of insects, even more than other hummingbirds do. Still, it is really amazing to see them flying around out in sub freezing temperatures in the depth of winter. I make sure the feeder is available, and thawed, all winter for a ready supply of calories.

I've been getting a little more diligent about phenology this year. I used to record the return of the hummingbirds, and then stopped, for no good reason except laziness I guess. I have dredged up the years I did record their arrival, although I can't be absolutely certain these weren't Anna's visiting from some other neighborhood, since I didn't know Anna's stay over the winter until last year. I wasn't looking closely at their colors. However, from what birders and naturalists in the county have reported, while Anna's have been seen in isolated spots since the early 1990s, it's only since around 2005 they have spread county-wide.

Year       Date of first Rufous hummingbird seen at my house
1996       3/16
1997       3/23
1998       3/13
1999       3/20
2000       3/25
2001       ?
2002       3/30
2003       3/15
2004       3/13
2005       3/02
and then did not record until this year :(
2013       3/14

There's a phenology citizen science organization many of you know about, Journey North, which has been tracking the migration and flowering of a variety of organisms since 1997. Rufous hummingbirds have been tracked since 2002. I will spend a little time looking at that data, for example comparing it to my own where it overlaps.

And I'll be a bit more observant myself of the changes as the season progresses.

What's going on in your neighborhood? All observations are welcome in the Bucket!

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