South American Hummingbird Spotted in Wisconsin A rare visitor to Joan Salzberg's backyard has drawn hundreds of ornithology devotees to her Beloit, Wis., home. The South American green-breasted mango hummingbird has been a star attraction for the past few weeks.
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South American Hummingbird Spotted in Wisconsin

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South American Hummingbird Spotted in Wisconsin

South American Hummingbird Spotted in Wisconsin

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

The crowds have finally cleared out from Joan Salzberg's backyard in Beloit, Wisconsin. That's where Ms. Salzberg and her husband discovered a Green-breasted Mango hummingbird fluttering its wings this summer. And hundreds of bird lovers have flocked to their house to catch a glimpse. The Green-breasted Mango is a rarity in these parts. A South American bird hardly ever spotted north of Mexico.

So what's it doing in Beloit, Wisconsin? Joan Salzberg, what do you think?

Ms. JOAN SALZBERG (Beloit resident): Well, there's been a lot of conjecture about that. Number one, it was blown up here on a tropical storm, and I think we did have Dean earlier in the summer, or that its gyroscope was off and it went north instead of south. It's a juvenile, male juvenile, so who knows? You know, the little bird didn't get direction.

BLOCK: How did you first notice it?

Ms. SALZBERG: Well, I have a hummingbird feeder right outside my window. I'm looking at it right now, outside of my kitchen window. And I see it coming, and I thought, well, hmm. I have never seen a hummingbird like that before. So I called up my friend in the Bird Club, come over and see this bird. I didn't know what it was. I thought it was a Rufus. And he looked at it and he said, no, that's not a Rufus. So he came back the next day and took a picture. And then he identified it and put it on - there's a big Web site for these rare birds that they all go on, and then it's posted and they read it and then they all go there.

BLOCK: Well, what does it look like?

Ms. SALZBERG: Well, it's twice the size of a Ruby-throated, that's all we have up here. And the juvenile had a, kind of, like a modeled breast and it had some, russet down the side of it. But the most distinctive feature is the curved built.

BLOCK: And he just stuck around, huh?

Ms. SALZBERG: Oh, yeah. He's still here. He usually had breakfast and dinner with us, because that's why we're sitting here. I don't stay here all day looking for the bird. So he can come when I'm not watching.

BLOCK: But you would know. If you were sitting at the table there, he might be right on the other side of the glass.

Ms. SALZBERG: He might come in as we speak, as they say. And they, he'll stay here as long as he can get food and as long as he can get bugs in the nectar out of the seeder then it'll be all right. But the first good frost, I think, hmm, something bad will happen to the poor thing.

BLOCK: He's going to be in some trouble.

Ms. SALZBERG: I think so. They don't think he has enough sense to go back, you know, to migrate. The other ones are gone.

BLOCK: The other hummingbird, the Ruby-throated…

Ms. SALZBERG: Right. Yes. They felt maybe he might go with them. But that hasn't happened.

BLOCK: Well, it must be a complicated thing because I guess you wouldn't want to really see him go after all this time. But on the other hand, you would want him to be safe.

Ms. SALZBERG: Well, yes. I think nature is going to take its course in that. But I tell you, the most interesting aspect in this whole experience are the 689 people that came up my driveway.

BLOCK: You've been counting.

Ms. SALZBERG: Well, we did. We had a clipboard. And they were supposed to write on there their name when they saw it to help other people, when was the last time that you've seen, and there were all kinds of little comments. And as one man said, well, I haven't recovered from the shock yet. (Unintelligible) I was wondering if anybody would have a heart attack in my driveway there.

BLOCK: We wouldn't want that.

Ms. SALZBERG: But they - I explained that to a bunch of them standing out there. And they say, don't worry. We have it. We all have cell phones.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SALZBERG: But, it was a lot of fun.

BLOCK: Well, it's been good talking with you. Thanks so much.

Ms. SALZBERG: Oh, you're welcome.

BLOCK: That's Joan Salzberg of Beloit, Wisconsin talking about the Green-breasted Mango hummingbird that's been visiting in her backyard since July.

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