If any bird is breathing a sigh of relief at this time of year, it’s got to be the Anna’s Hummingbird. After fighting over feeding stations all summer with the smaller but more aggressive Rufous Hummingbird, this small, green and white hummer now has the feeders — and any flower still in bloom (like my fuschias, amazingly) — all to himself.
The Anna’s Hummingbird is a year-round resident of the Pacific Northwest and will visit nectar feeders whether it’s sunny, rainy, or snowy, and whether it’s 84 degrees or 34 degrees. Hummingbirds depend on nectar for energy, and this one depends on it even more as the plentiful bug population it knew in summer begins to dwindle. Be sure to keep that feeder filled and you’ll have the joy of watching this beautiful little bird all year long.
(Nectar is easy to make, if you’d like to try it yourself. Boil four cups of water, remove from the heat, stir in one cup of table sugar until dissolved, and set aside to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, fill the feeder. The extra should be kept in a pitcher and refrigerated. Don’t add red food coloring — it may be more harmful than helpful to hummers.)
If you’d like to learn more about this little green powerhouse, please read on. The following is an excerpt from my book, available on Amazon:
Size and markings: The Anna’s Hummingbird is 3.5-4 inches long with a wingspan of 4.75 inches. The male has a scarlet red crown and throat, called a gorget. Upperparts and sides are an iridescent green, while the belly is gray. White rump patch. Female also has a gorget, but only a small one in the form of a small red patch on her throat, surrounded by red flecks. The short, straight bill is black.
Food: Backyard nectar feeders will be readily used by the Anna’s Hummingbird. When it comes to flowers, this bird prefers varieties with tube- or bell-shaped blossoms. Smaller insects caught in flight or found stuck in spider webs are also eaten or taken to their young. It also feeds on sap and the insects attracted to it, such as ants.
Habitat/nesting/behavior: This hummingbird, the only one to be found along the Pacific Coast in wintertime, prefers dry open areas as its habitat, including parks and suburban backyards. Nests are comprised of lichen, plant fibers, down, and spider silk.
Number of broods per year: 2-3
Number of eggs per brood: 2
Migratory pattern: The Anna’s Hummingbird lives year-round in some areas of western Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. In non-breeding months, it lives anywhere from coastal British Columbia south to Mexico.
Months usually seen at backyard feeders: Any, really, but may be more commonly seen in spring and summer.
Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.