Photos © Charles Ruth
On 1 August 2003 a different-looking hummingbird showed up at the backyard feeder of Lisa & Charles Ruth in the Dutch Fork community (Richland County) just north of Columbia, South Carolina. Being widlife biologists by training, Lisa & Charles saw the rusty back and orange-red gorget and knew immediately the visitor was an adult male Rufous Hummingbird. This species--which breeds in southern Alaska, western Canada, and the most northerly Rocky Mountain states, and winters in central Mexico--has been appearing with increasing regularity in fall and winter in the eastern U.S. There have been very few summer records in the East, however, and the Dutch Fork bird may be the earliest adult male ever reported for South Carolina. (A slightly later adult male banded at Sharon SC on 6 Aug 1994 by Bill Hilton Jr. is beleieved to be the previous early state record. See Winter Hummingbird Banding on the Web site for Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History.)

Bill Hilton Jr. of Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project visited the Ruth residence on 5 August in the hope of trapping and banding the bird, but it was last seen on 3 August.

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