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Virginia Rail

Photo of the Week (May 28th, 2017)

(archive photos of the week here)

Summer.  After a long South Dakota winter, for me, summer officially starts when the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds start flitting about my back yard. They arrive at the same time every year, with arrival dates ranging from May 6th to May 10th each of the past 12 years we've lived in this house. By late August, they start trickling away, and the last stragglers in my yard are usually around mid- to late-September.  In South Dakota, we're thus graced with their presence for less than 5 months a year, but they make up for their short stay with a flurry of activity! 

It's almost nearly always a male that shows up first in my yard, although this year, I had 2 males and 1 female on the first day I saw them. Almost immediately, you'll start to see the males do their U-shaped courtship flights as they try to entice a female.  By the end of June, I'll start to see young, first-year birds popping up at my feeders and in the yard.  July and the first half of August are usually a very busy time for them in my yard, with the prior years' adults and the current year young all jockeying for position at my honeysuckles and feeders. This photo is of a male at Newton Hills State Park this May, taking a short break on a twig after a long series of courtship flights to an unseen female.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris

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