by Steve N. G. Howell
Hummingbirds present some of the most challenging identification problems in North America. Views of these tiny, fast-flying birds in the field are often frustratingly brief, and many hummingbirds simply “get away” as unidentified – even for experienced birders. Accepting that most of your field encounters with hummingbirds may be this way is an important first step! Fortunately, hummingbird feeders increasingly allow close-range and prolonged studies that are difficult if not impossible to obtain “in the wild,” but then, if you do see a bird well, what do you look for? Females and immatures of different species, and even adult males, often look very similar to one another. Indeed, plumage differences between ages and sexes of the same species can be greater than those between species.
This is a great initiative. I am constantly referring to my hard copies and have even made a few scams. They should be a great resource for all, in the manner of other older issues of Ornithological and Birding journals. We have all the old issues of N. Am. Birds available for members. Got them scanned as pdfs for very little at Staples and converted them to searchables.