It's been more than 20 years since Julia Wise saw a Broad-Billed Hummingbird sipping from the feeder of her Seneca home -- the first documented sighting of the species in South Carolina.
That was until early this month, when Annabeth Proctor noticed an odd hummingbird among the swarm of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds at one of her feeders in Rockville, near Charleston. The Ruby-Throat is common in South Carolina.
"I knew it wasn't a Ruby-Throat. It had totally different colors," Proctor said. "And it sounded different, too."
Proctor, an avid bird watcher, searched the Internet for help in identifying the new visitor. She found York County bird expert Bill Hilton Jr.
"He's very dedicated," Proctor said of Hilton, "He left his house at 3 a.m. to come here."
Proctor said Hilton came early in the morning because hummingbirds are very active at the feeders in the morning; they fast all night.
Hilton identified the thumb-sized iridescent blue and green bird as a male Broad-Billed Hummingbird.
The bird was banded and photographed, unlike when it was first sighted in 1985 by Wise. According to Wise, another hummingbird chased the Broad-Billed Hummer away and she has never seen another one.
The Broad-Billed Hummingbird was far outside its normal habitat. It's usually found in Arizona, Texas and North and Central Mexico. The bird is usually a year-round resident there and doesn't migrate, like some hummingbirds.
So what brought the Broad-Billed Hummer 2,000 miles from its home to the Proctor's feeder in Rockville?
Hilton, executive director of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History in York, said there could be a number of reasons. Changes in climate due to global warming could be a factor, as could habitat destruction.
Or it could be wanderlust, Hilton said. Sometimes birds explore new areas to expand their breeding ground.
But without a female, the lone Broad-Billed Hummingbird cannot expand its breeding ground, so Hilton said it will probably return to its normal habitat.
Hilton banded the bird's leg with a thin flat aluminum ring so its future travels can be tracked.
The band is easily visible so bird watchers and scientists will know the bird was briefly captured and studied.
Proctor has been watching and feeding hummingbirds at her home for about four years. She puts sugar water in her feeders and sits back and watches them.
"It's very entertaining," she said. "Sometimes they will come up close to you, look at you, then fly by your head real fast."
Proctor said since spotting the Broad-Bill, she's going to keep a sharper eye out for more stray hummers.
"After Bill (Hilton) left," she said, "I saw a female that didn't look like a Ruby-Throat."
A female Broad-Bill Hummingbird, perhaps?