A Hummingbird in November

Cape May, NJ – It’s November and even though much of our Cape May garden is finally starting to wither,  the red and pink sages are still going strong.  Both the annual sages as well as the perennial salvias are producing flowers.

We aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed.

Tuesday at dusk,  Garden Partner spotted some quick movements in one thicket of Salvia Greggii – known appropriately as Autumn Sage.  Sure enough, happily slurping down dinner, was a tiny hummingbird. In November!


Photo by Michael O’Brien

Here’s a photo of the little guy snapped in mid air the next morning by well known birder, author and artist  Michael O’Brien .  (Michael is also a popular tour leader.)

Michael and another well respected birder, Jim Dowdell, took good long looks and determined that the hummingbird was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Normally we see these hummingbirds in the summer in Cape May. By late September, they’ve all headed south for the winter.

The really interesting part – our little Ruby-throated Hummingbird is not the only straggler. Several late hummingbirds have been seen in the Cape May area this month, two months later than usual.

O’Brien says about a half dozen hummingbirds are hanging around gardens from Cape May Point to the Delaware Bayshore.


Photo by Michael O’Brien

This is a photo O’Brien took of an unusual (for Cape May) Calliope Hummingbird at Cape May Point’s Triangle garden in October.

Why so many hummingbirds, so late?

O’Brien thinks it has a lot to do with the fact that there’s still plenty of sage – a hummingbird favorite – blooming in local gardens.  He says those flowers are keeping the late migrants alive.

The sage is still blooming because the weather has been milder this fall.  Cape May has yet to have a hard frost. It was 68 degrees on Monday!

Even though our little hummingbird is enjoying our sages and we’re enjoying his visit, we hope he heads south soon.   Most of the  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are in Central or South America by now.

Time to get going.


About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.