Arrr! This be the feeder of RUHU, the Red-bearded Pirate-bird!

It was inevitable.  You knew it, I knew it.  I spent a day pretending I didn’t know it and actually thought I was being an adult when I decided against going on another five-hour round-trip to the same place to try again for the Rufous Hummingbird.  The inner birder-child won out last Friday, though, as I found myself checking to see if I had any unused comp hours at work to be able to get off early enough to get down to Le Sueur before the RUHU went to bed.  Friends at work continue to be enablers for this birding disease of mine as they agreed to cover my last two classes of the day.  With the extra time, I was able to pick up both kids, take care of the dogs, and hit the road with the sun still high in the sky.  We even stopped to pick up Melissa for yet another family-style bird adventure.

So what could cause all the angst?  What could be worth the fast-paced, high-stress hassle?  What could cause me to stop licking my wounds and go back for potentially more pain? This.

Rufous Hummingbird in Le Sueur, Minnesota

Rufous Hummingbird in Le Sueur, Minnesota

We had to wait nearly 20 minutes for our first glimpse of the bird when it made a brief appearance at the feeder.  It was not very active on this day and would disappear for another 15-20 minutes before our next sighting.  It was no small thrill to be waiting alongside a couple of Minnesota birding legends, Bob Janssen and Dave Cahlander. I’ve got Bob’s Birds in Minnesota book and am looking forward to his upcoming book on birds of Minnesota State Parks.  This was a second author sighting in as many months; I’m going to have to start carting around Evan’s bird book library for autographs.

Rufous Hummingbird

So, Evan got his lifer RUHU, and I got my MN RUHU.  Pretty sweet deal all around. Another interesting aside is that Evan is working on some electives in Cub Scouts to earn some patches for his uniform.  Several of them involve birdwatching; one in particular was keeping a week-long list of species he had seen.  When he started the list, we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams he would be writing down Rufous Hummingbird.

Rufous Hummingbird

It was nice of the sun and the bird to cooperate for a brief moment to give me a shot of RUHU’s beautiful gorget.

Rufous Hummingbird

Though we did not get to see the Rufous chase away any Ruby-throats from the feeder he plundered and pillaged, it was clear that no RTHU dared to challenge RUHU, the Red-bearded Pirate-bird.  He was a fireball in every sense of the word.

After enjoying a couple more brief sightings, we headed to Mankato so Evan could stop at a Barnes and Noble to pick up his next book in a series he’s reading.  It was just our luck to visit on International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th).  The kids enjoyed listening to a store employee all decked out in piratewear read a pirate story in a pirate voice.  It was topped off with a treasure hunt around the store.  No fewer than three adults chortled/gaffawed/giggled when the pirate asked the kids if they wanted to look for her booty.

Since I have many teacher friends who visit this blog, I would be remiss to not mention that Barnes and Noble offers an educator discount.  My astute wife had the presence of mind to ask about it.  When I learned the discount was a hefty 20%, I hustled on back to the bird section and bought my first Sibley’s.  I think I’m a real birder now.


So avast me mates and get ye to the B ‘n N fer some real book treasure to fill the bowels of yer ship!  And if ye should see Red-beard, the pirate-bird, raise yer glass of grog to his pirattitude and toss ‘er back in celebration!

4 thoughts on “Arrr! This be the feeder of RUHU, the Red-bearded Pirate-bird!

  1. Shazaam Josh! You got it, congrats. Birds like that are worth it; especially when you can get a killer state bird for yourself and get Evan a lifer out of it too. Very cool that you got to hang out with Minnesota’s big birders also. Rufous Hummers are terrors, they are not to be missed with and there are some crazy stories to go with their aggressiveness.

    But I don’t know what I enjoyed more, reading about the hummingbird or your Sibley purchase. In my opinion, the Sibley is the best birding guide out there by 100 miles, and I love the second edition. That Minnesota Birds Field Guide by Bob Janssen looks really awesome too, local and state birding books are some of the funnest books to look through and study.

    • Thanks Tommy! Had I not gone down for it again I would have been kicking myself. It’s such a good bird anyway, but especially so here in state (this was the 4th adult male ever and 13th RUHU overall). Plus, to this day that Rufous is still visiting that feeder; that’s been almost two weeks now! I’m sure that will change once this unseasonably warm, summer weather breaks.

      Those RUHU terror stories sound intriguing.

      Glad you liked the Sibley story – it was truly a target of opportunity. And I must admit, I feel all grown up (birding-wise) by having one.

  2. Great job Mr. Josh!!! Nice to see you got the bird for Evan and your state list. I bet Evan will have the most impresive list of his troup, also nice photos!

    • Thanks Caleb. Yeah, Evan’s list will dominate other scouts’ lists statewide. And he even added another lifer to it before it was done! That one will be in the next post.

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