It’s absolutely true! It must be true if I heard it on news radio before leaving for the office this morning. The “alien” is a hummingbird whose species has yet to be identified but is thought to perhaps be a far-off-course Broad-tailed Hummingbird or perhaps a Rufous Hummingbird. Both are inhabitants of the western U.S. The Rufous breeds farther north than any other hummingbird — clear up into Alaska! The only hummingbird that breeds in the eastern U.S. and Canada is our Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It would be uncommon though not impossible to still find a straggler Ruby-throat stopping by a feeder to tank up on its way to Central American wintering grounds. But apparently the little visitor at the hummingbird feeder in west suburban Chicago was, indeed, an alien! You know what they say, “You have to play to win!” And some kind and patient birdwatchers who still had their hummingbird feeders up at this late date in the season in Oak Park, Illinois may have won the “Midwestern Hummingbird Lottery”. If the bird proves to be a Broad-tailed Hummingbird (as an expert ornithologist from Cornell University feels it might be after viewing pictures), it will be the first recorded sighting of that species in Illinois. While Rufous are rare, they have been spotted here. Chicago’s Field Museum will test the bird’s droppings for DNA to try to determine its species. Attempts to trap the bird for banding have not been successful.
Needless to say, the news of an alien hummingbird flying around these parts has caused quite a commotion among casual birders and professional ornithologists alike. Apparently the bird was first sighted a week ago and well over 100 people have come from near and far to get a glimpse of the creature, including another Chicago suburbanite who actually heard the news while he was in Europe! (BTW, there are no hummingbirds in Europe. We only have them here in the Americas.)
I am flattered that family friends thought of none other than moi when they heard the news and emailed to make sure I knew about it. I did. I knew about it. I heard it on the radio!