Despite being the most commonly-encountered hummingbird along North America's Pacific coast, Anna's is anything but ordinary. Just one glance at the dazzling green and pink hues of this bird will tell you so.
As a sexually dimorphic species, Anna's hummingbirds vary in coloration. Adult males have green and grey bodies, as do females and immature males. However, adult males boast a handy tool for alluring female prospects: a crown and throat vibrantly colored in metallic-fuschia. The iridescence of these colors only gets brighter with a higher protein intake. This is the only North American hummingbird with rufous feathers on its crown.
On the other hand, females and immature males can be harder to distinguish — that is, until the male starts to mature. Pink and rufous feathers slowly begin to sprinkle across his collar and crown.
Anna’s are small, but their form is more robust than many hummingbird species. They have a wide-extending tail, which often fans out during courtship displays.
Their little bodies vibrate to keep pollen and other debris off — shaking at a pace of 55 times per second! Moving almost as fast is their wingbeat — at 40-50 per second, it allows the bird to hover while feeding on nectar. These high-speed movements are thanks to the bird’s large pectoral muscles.
Anna’s are non-migrational; they’re 1 of only 3 hummingbird species permanently residing in the US and Canada. Even during the harshest of winters, they stay within the coastal Pacific region.
As the rise of ornamental plants expands along the Pacific coast, so does the distribution of Anna’s hummingbirds. Currently, its range extends from British Columbia to Arizona. It commonly dwells in backyards, gardens, parks, groves, woodlands, and coastal scrub.
Although it will occasionally snack on insects, nectar is the bird’s meal of choice. They’re most often seen scanning through flowers in pursuit of some sticky sweetness. Anna’s particularly enjoy fuschia-flowered gooseberry, eucalyptus, red hot pokers, lantana, and hummingbird sage.
The busy-bodied birds play a key role in transferring pollen between plants. This occurs due to the electrostatic charge generated during flight, making the bird like a magnet for pollen. In fact, Anna’s hummingbirds are responsible for pollinating up to hundreds of flowers per day.
Like many hummingbird species, Anna’s take their territory seriously. They guard their home base fiercely to prevent the risk of losing shelter or food resources. Mothers relentlessly protect their nesting site while males chase away other males. Anna’s have even been seen darting after sizable insects that are potential competition for food.
Giving them even more points for originality is the male’s courtship song. Singing during courtship is uncommon amongst most hummingbird species. His song is not the most soothing of songs to the human ear. However, the shrill and raspy melody seems to hit just the spot for is female counterpart.
For the male’s next move, he flies up into the air and then torpedoes downward towards his female while letting out a loud “POP.” Then, he continues to hover and buzz around the female, so she has no choice but to notice him.
When it comes time to nest, females establish and build the nesting site. Nests are petite and cup-shaped, comprising plant fibers, features, lichens, and spider webs. They’re often camouflaged within the branches of trees or bushes. While Anna’s hummingbirds don’t reuse their nests, they have been known to recycle nesting material.
Eventually, they’ll lay 2 small white eggs, which are incubated solely by the female. Incubation lasts about 14-19 days before the tiny chicks are ready to hatch.
The mother feeds nestlings about 2-3 times per hour. Sticking her beak into her chicks’ mouths, she regurgitates a blend of insects and nectar. After about 18-23 days, it’s time for the babies to spread their wings and fledge. The average lifespan for Anna’s hummingbirds is about 8.5 years.