Rufie's Diary (kept by Gerry Stewart)
Part 3: December, 2002
December 1, 2002 Winter Sets In: "Rufie showed up at 6:27 this morning, temperature at 23 degrees. He's lookin' good, and has been back at the feeder a lot."
December 2, 2002 First Meal of Day: "Rufie showed up at 6:25, temperature around 30 degrees. It seems to be normal for him to be tentative about drinking on his first visits, gradually drinking more on subsequent visits.
3, 2002 Winter
Storm Warning: Rufie showed up at 6:23, temperature around
32 degrees. Yesterday I got an outside thermometer. It's supposed
to stick on the window by suction. On one of Rufie's visit this morning,
it fell off, and away he flew. I put it back and it fell off again,
so I'll be returning it. Another thing about it is the instructions
say that if the temperature shown is not correct, you can adjust it
by turning this little screw... But if I knew what the temperature
was, why would I need a thermometer? Gonna have to upgrade."
December 4, 2002 Icicles! "Whew! Rufie was late this morning and I was getting worried. He showed up at 6:39, temperature around 30 degrees. There are icicles on the deck railing and a glaze of ice on the deck. As I was carrying the feeders out I was having images of me slipping on the ice and breaking the feeders. What would I do? Anyway, I guess Rufie's okay even if he was a little late.He sure stocked up yesterday! I suppose his main problem today would be getting cold feet from sitting on ice-covered branches. I just got a new electric heater for my study (modern little thing which is very quiet! ) especially to warm up my feet; the oil-filled radiator did an okay job otherwise. Today I have turned the new heater toward the window to warm up the feeders, and maybe Rufie's little footsies."
5, 2002 Brrrrrr! "Rufie showed
up at 6:31 this morning, looking a little groggy, but he stayed for
two minutes and did some feeding. No doubt he'll be back soon for
more. Temperature around 30 degrees. At 5:00 I turned my new heater
towards the window and when I put out the feeder at 6:10 I felt the
window and it was a bit warm, so I think my strategy is a good one.
When my feet get too cold I turn the heater around for a while.
December 6, 2002 Waking Up Is Hard to Do: "Rufie showed up at 6:24 and just perched at the feeder for a full minute before taking a brief sip, buzzed his wings, short sip, buzz, then took off. He returned at 6:32 for some more serious drinking. He really seems to take a while to wake up enough to feed. I find this surprising. Temperature is around 17 degrees. That's just guessing from what the computer says and the TV news. Will try to get a decent outdoor thermometer today. The process of coming out of torpor takes noticeably longer on a morning as cold as this. Rufie looks good now, fully up to speed and making frequent feeder visits. Although the sun is shining bright now, apparently the temperature has actually dropped. I'm going to postpone my trip to town until this afternoon so I can keep the heater trained on the feeder window (which is in the shade.) At least the trees in the sun (which look like they're covered with diamonds) are beginning to show some dripping. It's supposed to get up to 38 degrees this afternoon -- a heatwave!"
7, 2002 Plumage
Changes "Rufie showed up at 6:25, hovered by the feeder
and just dashed away. Came back at 6:26, hovered and drank a little.
At 6:44 he came and perched and did some real drinking. He looks quite
alert this morning. I'm guessing it's not as cold as it was yesterday,
although the computer says it's 18 degrees. I'm determined to get
a serious outdoor thermometer on Monday and eliminate this guesswork.
At least the forecast is for about a week of highs in the 40s, so
that should be a lot easier on Rufie, although he seems to have done
remarkably well this week in spite of the ice storm.
December 8, 2002 Comfortable Day: "I first spotted Rufie this morning at 6:33, temperature a balmy 26 degrees. I think I must have missed his first visit, being away from my observation post. Anyway, he's looking very alert and comfortable today.
December 9, 2002 Groggy: "Rufie's first vist was at 6:30, temperature 30 degrees. He looked groggy and just sat there. Back at 6:43 for an appetizer. 6:58 -- fully revved up. Rufie didn't pick the toughest place to spend the winter; maybe this bird in Maine did:
10, 2002 Sleeping
In? "First saw Rufie at 6:43 this morning; temperature
36 degrees. I may have missed an earlier visit, but I'm beginning
to suspect that Rufie sleeps in on "warm" mornings. I've
finally got a reliable outdoor thermometer! It's battery operated
and has a remote sensor.
11, 2002 "Rufie's
first visit this morning was a 6:33, temperature 32 degrees. Sat right
down, lookin' good and started eating.
December 13, 2002 Sitting in the Rain: "Rufie's first visit at 6:45, 36 degrees and raining. He sat there for a full five minutes, mainly just staring, but feeding pretty well also. Ordinarily, the first visit would be shorter, but I think the rain may have encouraged the long sit.
December 14, 2002 Wondering about Hummingbirds: "At 6:37 Rufie flew up to the feeder, hovered, and flew off. Temperature 33 degrees. He was back at 6:47 for a sit down and a good slurp. One of these days, he won't show up. My reading indicates he's likely to migrate back out west between January and March (I'm kinda hoping for March.) A Hummingbird in winter sure brightens things up. One of my friends wrote, 'I would really like to know where it is that Rufie goes between his first and his second morning visits. What else does a hummingbird have to do on a cold morning? Read the paper?' He might be eating bugs? Though some mornings he looks spacey enough, I think he might just go sit somewhere and stare. Then there are the Sapsucker taps to visit. I am so relieved we seem to be in a warm-weather pattern for a while, at least a week... I don't think we know what the El Nino will bring here -- whether it will be just wetter, or maybe colder. Anybody know? When you look at weather maps, Tennessee seems to be on the dividing line, so it could go either way. Another friend guessed, 'Shuffle around in his bathrobe and bunny slippers, make fresh coffee, eat cold, leftover pizza, check Weather Channel, curse, check email. The usual.' That's what he looks like, all right! It's really different observing a Hummingbird in winter -- I've never seen that sort of behavior in the summer birds. They've always seemed fully revved up. But maybe I wasn't looking. I know there wasn't the suspense there is now with Rufie. Will make a point of observing the Ruby-throats' first morning visits this coming summer to see if they also go through that "I haven't had my coffee" period early in the morning. Of course, the other big difference is that now I have just one Hummingbird to observe, and in Ruby-throat season there are lots of birds and you can't really follow the comings and goings of any particular bird.
15, 2002 Serious
Swillin' "Rufie first spotted at 6:30, temperature 32
degrees. He sat down, looked around a bit, drank some nectar, looked
around. It was longish first visit. I'm wondering if the spate of
out-of-range wintering hummers has something to do with tropical deforestation.It's
supposed to get up to about 57 degrees this afternoon, and they predict
highs like that all week. What a nice break all of us, especially
December 16, 2002 Fly-By "Rufie made a fly-by at 6:31, temperature 41 degrees. He was back at 6:36 for a couple minutes of concentrated sit-down sipping, looking alert.
December 17, 2002 Warming Up "Rufie showed up at 6:44, temperature 51 degrees. He had a good sit and slurp. I really do think Rufie "sleeps-in" on warm mornings, and when he gets to the feeder he is much more alert and ready to eat. I am so happy we're having this warm spell! I think the insect supply must be way up too. This will give him a real good opportunity to fuel up before the next bout of cold weather. I just hope he doesn't get any crazy ideas about migrating!
December 18, 2002 Balmy Weather: "Rufie appeared at 6:38, temperature 51 degrees. We're headed for the 60s. This weather is strange! Mid-December, balmy weather and a hummingbird... It feels like I should be out digging up the gardens for planting."
December 19, 2002 Rain: "Rufie first spotted at 7:01, temperature 51 degrees, rain increasing. He hasn't been very evident today.
20, 2002 Throat
Patch Growing: "Rufie's first appearance was around
7, temperature around 41 degrees. Rufie definitely seems to sleep
late on warmer days. I figure it's because, in spite of the torpor,
it takes more energy to keep from freezing on cold nights, so he has
to start refueling as soon as possible. Well, that's my guess...
December 21, 2002 "Todays' first Rufie sighting: 6:48, temperature 41 degrees.
22, 2002 I've
Grown Accustomed to His Face "Rufie's first visit was
at 6:38, temperature 55 degrees. I have been aware of that magic all
along. It really was stunning. As Chris (the bander) was getting ready
to leave, he said "if you can remember when you first spotted
him [Rufie] please e-mail me" and I immediately said "October
16" he looked quite surprised. He also asked me to let him know
when Rufie leaves. I'm not looking forward to that... 'I've grown
accustomed to her face... '
23, 2002 Big
Chase "Rufie's first visit this morning: 6:32, temperature
32 degrees. Feeding well.
24, 2002 More
Rain "First spotted Rufie at 6:50, temperature 37 degrees
December 25, 2002 Merry Christmas, Rufie! "Rufie showed up at 6:41, temperature 27 degrees. He looks merry. It's after noon and still only 29 degrees. Rufie is all fluffed up and eating a lot!"
December 26, 2002 Freezing Temperatures "First Rufie sighting at 6:44, temperature 26 degrees. We're supposed to get up to around 37 later. I hope so -- just getting a little above freezing seems to make a big difference. Rufie remained fluffed up pretty much all day yesterday. Warming trend tomorrow. Whew!"
December 27, 2002 Good Morning "Rufie showed up at 6:36, temperature 22 degrees. He sat a stayed for three minutes, looking good and feeding well.
December 28, 2002 Another Warm-Up "Rufie showed up at 6:39, temperature 31 degrees. The weather forecast for the next seven days is quite mild, staying above freezing, and even expected to hit 60 tomorrow. Good to know.
December 29, 2002 Naughty Kitties "Rufie showed up at 6:45, temperature 39 degrees. He may have come by earlier, but I was distracted and didn't notice that Harvey (cat) had taken up a stalking post by the feeder -- locked him in the bedroom. No doubt Rufie looks to him like a flying mouse. My cats will never understand why they shouldn't sit in that window. After all, they are cats. I do believe they are deliberately manipulating me with the early dinner business though. The furry little darlings. If Rufie comes up to the feeder when they're there, he takes off. It's a window mounted feeder at the same level as the floor, so they are literally inches apart. I looked for hanging feeders a while ago, but didn't see anything I liked. I do like being able to see Rufie up close though, and there is a little heat that makes it through the window to the feeder...
30, 2002 Very
Mild "Rufie arrived at 6:41, temperature 53 degrees.
Try This! Learn About Torpor
Rufous Hummingbirds are extremely tiny--even smaller than Ruby-throats. The tinier an animal is, the harder it is for it to hold its body heat inside. Learn how hummingbirds survive cold situations!
Which days in December did Rufie seem to have the most trouble bringing his body temperature back up to normal in the morning?