Monday, December 31, 2007

Anna's Hummingbird--Calypte anna

Color flashes as a male Anna's turns his head to just the right angle.

The only place to find hummingbirds is in the Americas. North America, Central America, and South America. Many have even more restricted ranges. In the early 1900s, Anna's Hummingbirds were a California Hummingbird restricted to the California coast and Baja California. However, expanded food sources have allowed them to expand their range at least as far north as the State of Washington. Hummingbirds in general are beautiful due to their iridescent colors and are often referred to as "jewels of the garden." Anna's Hummingbirds are feisty and flashy. The males have rose-colored iridescent gorgets. It is like a hood of iridescent rose over their heads. The females often have rose-colored specks under their chins.

From behind--iridescent green.

Take a look at the beautiful video showing the colors of an Anna's Hummingbird below from Ventura photographer Don DesJardin:

Anna's Hummingbird from You-Tube flashing its rose-colored gorget. Posted on You-Tube by photographer and birder Don DesJardin.

The color of all hummingbirds is refractive color. That means that the color is not pigment--not part of their feathers--but light that is reflected back to our eyes from the structure of the feathers. What this means is that we have to be at a particular angle to get the great color reflected back to us. Otherwise, all we see is black. So when you watch a hummingbird you see black areas on the hummer. Then as it turns, you see a flash of color as the light reflects the color back to your eye.

What is often visible when observing an Anna's Hummingbird. Note the white spot behind the eye.

Anna's is the most abundant hummingbird in this area. Almost anywhere you go that has flowers has hummingbirds in Orange County, and many of them will be Anna's Hummingbirds. Other hummers you might see are Allen's, Black-chinned, and Rufous Hummingbirds (rare but frequently sighted.) Anything else would be rare. See below for a list of rare hummingbirds spotted in Orange County.

Anna's Hummingbird at a feeder in Morongo.

The Anna's Hummingbirds is the largest hummingbird resident hummingbird in Orange County and in California. Though other hummingbirds may show up on the rare bird alert, this is the largest resident hummingbird that you will usually see.

You Tube Video that discusses and shows male Anna's Hummingbird display.

One morning as I lay in bed, I heard a loud pop or chirp periodically. It was nearby and loud. I got up to see what it was and discovered a male Anna's diving down toward a female in the hibiscus bush not far from our bedroom window. As he reached the bottom of his dive, he made the loud popping sound.

Anna's Hummingbird from courtship through young fledgling and leaving nest. From Encyclopedia Britannica.

Anna's Hummingbirds live an average of 8.5 years. The older the female Anna's is the more rose colored spots she may have under her chin.

Anna's Hummingbird in Morongo

Hummingbirds eat nectar, tree sap, small spiders, and insects. Anna's consume more insects than many other hummingbirds. Like flycatchers, they fly out and capture insects flying through the air. In fact, you will often see them sitting on top of a favorite bush or tree where they get a good view of the insects that are flying by. If you pass a shrub that an Anna's is perched on top of like a sentinel, but it flies away, be patient. Wait and it will most likely return with its meal. Anna's Hummingbirds will also drink the tree sap that leaks out of holes drilled by woodpeckers. They visit the drilled holes for both sap and the insects attracted to the sap.

Anna's Male Hummingbird drinking nectar from a bird feeder.

Anna's Hummingbirds, as are all hummingbirds, extremely territorial. I know people who have actually removed hummingbird feeders because they became upset that the hummingbirds fought over the feeder. Hummingbirds will vigorously defend a flowering shrub, or tree or feeder. Because of their fast wing beats and speed, they have an extremely fast metabolism, and they use a tremendous amount of fuel. Since their lives depend on a steady supply of readily available food, they don't have time to be nice. If they don't defend a food source, they could die.

I recommend this type of feeder over fancy or bottle-type feeders. It is easy to clean and the distance between ports allows more hummers to feed at the same time. I use this kind of feeder and threw out my other bottle-type feeders. Check out the good reviews on Amazon.

If you think you can deal with the hummer fights, you can put out a feeder. Don't bother with the commercial food for feeders. Use 1 part sugar, and 4 parts water. Boil until the granules melt. Let it cool, and fill a clean feeder and wait for the hummingbirds to find you. Honey is not good for hummingbirds, so don't put any in your feeder. Red dye is unnecessary and perhaps harmful. The red on the feeder is enough to attract hummingbirds. (I wore a red blouse into the yard one day and attracted a hummingbird while I was watering the lawn. It hovered right in front of me and made sure I wasn't a flower before it moved on.)

Anna's Hummingbird ready to fly.

Anna's hummingbirds, like all hummingbirds, are master fliers. They can fly forward, backward and up and down. Their wings move so fast that they make a whirring or buzzing sound.

Male Anna's at Newport Back Bay. Color appears black instead of rose because it is refracted color that requires light reflect off the feathers at the right angle for color to appear.

Unlike many hummers who depart for tropical climates, Anna's Hummingbirds do not migrate. They live and breed right here in Orange County, California. They lay two tiny eggs in a small, stretchy nest made of lichen, soft materials and spider webs.

Same Hummingbird at a better angle, you see more of the rose color.

If you go birding in Orange County, you are bound to see an Anna's Hummingbird. In fact, just put out a feeder or plant a red flower and you will have hummingbirds visiting you. Birding at home is easy with Anna's hummingbirds. You put out the nectar, and they will come.

Sizes of hummingbirds

Regularly Seen Hummingbirds

Anna's Hummingbird 4 Inches (largest resident)

Black-chinned Hummingbird 3 3/4 Inches

Allen's Hummingbird 3 3/4 Inches

Unusual or Rare Hummingbirds

Rufous Hummingbird 3 3/4 Inches
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 4 Inches (same size as Anna's, but rare)
Calliope Hummingbird 3 1/4 Inches (smallest)
Costa's Hummingbird 3 1/2 Inches
Magnificent Hummingbird 5 1/4 Inches (largest, rare)

Male Anna's sipping sugar water in Morongo.

Hummingbirds that Have Shown up on the Rare Bird Alert

Costa's Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Magnificent Hummingbird (San Diego Only)

Anna's watching its territory for insects and intruders.

Injured Hummingbirds

North Orange County


South Orange County

(949) 831-1178

OC Birder Girl Links

Allen's Hummingbird---Selasphorus sasin

External Links and Resources

All About Birds: Anna's Hummingbird

Detailed Page about Anna's Hummingbirds. Maps, Cool Facts, Description, Similar Species, Sound, Range, Habitat, Food, Behavior, Reproduction, Conservation Status, and more.

Animal Diversity Web: Anna's Hummingbird

Very detailed page about Anna's Hummingbirds includes Geographic Range, Habitat, Physical Description, Reproduction, Lifespan/Longevity, Diet, Predation, Conservation Status, and more.

Birdweb: Anna's Hummingbird

Detailed article on Anna's Hummingbirds by the Seattle Audubon Society.'s Hummingbird

Short, but informative article about Anna's Hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds Chirp with Tail Feathers When Diving

Good article with sound and video of a displaying male Anna'a Hummingbird.

Displays and Morphology of an Anna x Allen Hybrid

From the SORA. A journal article from the Wilson Bulletin.

Internet Bird Collection: Anna's Hummingbird

Videos of Anna's Hummingbirds both male and female and nestlings.

Birds and Blooms: Anna's Hummingbird

Good short article with a great sound bite of the squeaky male Anna's Hummingbird song.

Creating a Haven for Hummingbirds

Article tells how to attract hummingbirds to your backyard.

Nature Mapping: Anna's Hummingbird Fact Sheet

Detailed fact sheet with photos from the University of Washington.

Hummingbird DVD "Hooked on Hummingbirds"

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