Honeysuckle and the Hummingbird

If you’ve got honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.) growing in your backyard on Vancouver Island, you’re bound to have some rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) dropping in for a drink. The long, trumpet-like tube of the flower is perfectly suited for the hummingbird’s long slightly curved bill.

Along the rural farm roads in Merville where I often take a lunch-time walk, I found some garden variety (non-native) honeysuckle twining its way through the shrubs of the hedgerow.

Honeysuckle
A garden variety honeysuckle found growing in a hedgerow beside a rural farm road.

I’m not sure how these garden escapees found their way here, but I imagine that birds may have eaten the red berries of the plant and “deposited” the seeds later while perched in the branches. Regardless, the honeysuckle was quite striking and, as expected, served to attract rufuous hummingbirds.

While I stopped to photograph the flowers, a rufuous hummingbird showed up, visited some of the flowers a little higher up and then perched for a bit of a rest. The spotted gorget and lack of strong orange colour on the sides suggests that this is either a female or a juvenile hummingbird.

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
A Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) takes a break from feeding on a domestic honeysuckle escapee.

Rufuous hummingbirds will be around for about another month before they start heading up into the sub-alpine to fuel up for their migration south. If you know of a patch of honeysuckle in bloom, visit it and keep an eye open for these gorgeous acrobats while they’re still around!

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