Rufous Hummingbirds and Monsoon Arrive


Here, in the Rio Grande valley of northern New Mexico, two remarkable events take place in early July. One is the arrival of the monsoon. The other is the arrival of the Rufous hummingbird. The former is a function of hot, moist air flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico, Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. When that moist air rises along the flanks of the high mountains of Arizona and New Mexico it results in torrential thunderstorms. Side canyons to the Rio Grande flood and the river gets muddy. While this ruins the fishing in the Rio, we still welcome the arrival of much-needed moisture and cooler temperatures. The term “monsoon” is taken from a similar circumstance in India when, seasonally, moist air runs northward into the Himalaya Range.

A normally dry side canyon in the

A normally dry side canyon runs muddy water into the Rio Grande, in the Orilla Verde section of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

The brilliantly-colored Rufous hummingbird follows a migratory route throughout the western US that brings them down the Rocky Mountains to us at this time of year. Their arrival time hardly varies, from year to year, which is pretty remarkable. Like all hummingbirds, they are feisty, and immediately start fighting with the summer-long residents, the Black-chinned hummingbirds, at the feeders. I’ve hung a feeder over our back deck, and positioned my tripod and camera (with 300 mm lens) in a doorway about 10′ away. With the camera focused on the feeder, I can sit in a chair next to the tripod and take pix using my remote shutter release.

Male Rufous hummingbird, coming in hot

Male Rufous hummingbird, coming in hot

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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