Couple Cares for Hummingbird for the Winter

Couple Cares for Hummingbird for the Winter
By: Carly O'Keefe

CAMBRIA, Ill. - Hobart "J.R." Brown of Cambria has an unusual backyard visitor for January...a hummingbird.
"No one could have made me believe it.  I'd have said that's not a humming bird, but it is," said Brown.
In the summer months, Brown sees plenty of them at his five feeders, but never in the middle of winter.
"It's something I've never heard of in my life.  I thought they'd all left, but she didn't--she likes me," said Brown.
Brown nick-named his feathered friend "green back."  Friday, bird-bander Cathie Hutcheson caught, examined and banded the bird.
"See that red tail? That's a Rufus," said Hutcheson.
Most Rufus hummingbirds travel south for the winter, but it seems southern Illinois was far enough for this one.
"They see a place they like and they stay," said Hutcheson.
Cambria must seem like a nice spot for these hummingbirds.  Earlier this fall, Hutcheson banded a different bird of the same species just a half a mile from Brown's home.
"It's not the same bird, isn't that amazing?  Two birds in one spot," said Hutcheson.
According to Hutcheson the little birds, weighing only about as much as a penny, nest as far north as Alaska.  So the cold of a southern Illinois winter may not be as bad as one would think. Still Brown spends his days trying to make his tiny guest as comfortable as possible.
"During the cold weather the feeder will freeze up, so I put one feeder out and switch it with another, and switch back and forth, so I'm taking good care of her," said Brown.
According to Hutcheson it's not rare to see a Rufus hummingbird in southern Illinois in the middle of winter, but it's certainly not their usual winter spot.