The hummingbird, Green Violet-ear, Colibri thalassinus, although resident in the forested mountain regions of Mexico and Central America, is a surprisingly frequent wanderer. Records of this species north of Mexico have been mostly from Texas, and as of 2003, Texas had 41 documented individuals, but Green Violet-ear has also been recorded north to Alberta and Ontario, and east to North Carolina. On July 4th, Michigan had its third record, if the latest sighting is accepted from Michigan's Upper Peninsula (The UP's second record).
Sometimes the story of the discovery of a rare species is a story that never gets told. The recent Green Violet-ear was found by non-birders, John and Cindy Hust. John and Cindy were enjoying a 4th of July meal at the home of their friends, the Hickmans, when they described a hummingbird to Scott. The bird had been coming to their feeder for the last two days. It was described as larger and darker than Ruby-throateds, the only other hummingbird at the feeders. In addition, the Husts thought the larger bird had slower wing-beats, but the Husts were not too sure of their descriptions.
Although Scott is a gracious host, he values his county list above his life list. Even though he was co-hosting the party, Scott left, telling his wife and guests that he would be back in 30 minutes. Over at his dinner guest's house, Scott saw only Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. He returned home, but left again with the Husts, with about 30 minutes of light remaining. Scott watched the feeders until it was too dark to see. No unusual bird came to feed.
At dawn on 5 July, Scott was back at the Hust's feeders. Scott says "within 45 minutes a big green hummer shot in, briefly paused with its back to me, and there was the tail band."
Great photographs of the Michigan Green Violet-ear, taken by Kirk Zufelt, can be viewed at http://www.surfbirds.com/cgi-bin/gallery/display.cgi?gallery=gallery10, and in the August 2008 issue of Winging It. If you are invited to the Hickman's for dinner, remember, Scott is a birder and county lister.