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Sep 24, 2014

Bees and wasps displace hummers

Photos by Barry Wallace
Our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds appear to have left us and headed south.   The last two we saw were females on September 22 - the same exact date on which last year's hummers packed their bags and departed.   A couple of very chilly nights seemed to be the catalyst or maybe they were just fed up with fighting off the bees and wasps at the nectar feeders.   Below are some of the Bald-faced Hornets (Dalichovespula maculata) that seem to be the most troublesome for hummingbirds in September.

Bald-faced Hornets are also known as Bald Hornet, White-faced Hornet, White-tailed Hornet, Blackjacket or Bull Wasp, and actually belong to a genus of Yellowjackets, which are known elsewhere in the world as just plain wasps.   The White-faced Hornet is a little larger than other Yellowjackets, measuring 2 to 3 cms. or over 1" long.   I sat outside for an hour or so this afternoon, just to make sure there were, in fact, no more hummingbirds.   I had a glass of white wine beside me and during the course of the hour, about 10 wasps and four Bald-faced Hornets fell into my wineglass, something the hummingbirds have never done. 
BULLETIN: This just wife has called out, while I was typing the last sentence above, that she has spotted a hummingbird in the backyard.
I am going to regard her sighting as that of a transient migrant passing through, as opposed to one of the resident hummers we had all summer in the yard.   So there.

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