(Calypte anna)

Note spider in front of bird

Pictured here is a female Anna’s Hummingbird. The male and the female are very distinctive from one another. The male has a bright rose to red iridescence on his throat and crown. (Their heads will appear to be black until the sun hits them.) The female appears to have red spots on her throat. Both birds are greenish and light or white underneath, with the male being brighter colored.

The hummingbird prefers open woods, shrubs, gardens, and parks. Anna’s hummingbird has gradually moved up the west coast from California, following hummingbird feeders. Anna’s doesn’t migrate much, and it is the only hummingbird you will see in Oregon in the winter. When they do migrate, they go as far south as Mexico and as far north as British Columbia and east to Arizona.. A few have strayed as far north as Alaska. If you hear a loud snapping sound in your yard, it is likely to be a male Anna’s hummingbird snapping his bills together in a mating call. Otherwise, Anna’s hummingbirds make a series of squeaky phrases or call 'chip.'

Anna’s hummingbird feeds on insects, spiders, sap from trees, and nectar - its favorite being reddish, tubular flowers. They come readily to feeders filled with sugar water. You should stick to clear sugar water as red food coloring is not good for hummingbirds. Use a 4:1 or 5:1 water to sugar mixture. Boil your water, and then add and stir in the sugar. Refrigerate it for several hours, or let it cool to room temperature before adding it to the feeder. If you observe a hummingbird at the feeder, you will note that they feed about every 20 minutes. Sometimes, they will rest on a nearby tree branch before they come back to the feeder. Hummingbirds consume an enormous amount of energy, and they must rest in between feedings. They can survive short amounts of severe cold weather by lowering their body temperature at night, converting sugar to fat, or by entering dormancy.

Anna’s hummingbirds make a cup-shaped nest of downy plant fibers, feathers and lichens, which is held together by spider silk. These are hung in shrubs, often near houses. Anna’s lay from 1-3 white eggs, which are incubated by the female for 14-19 days. The young fledge for 18-23 days, with the female feeding them.

An interesting thing about Anna’s hummingbirds is that they can fly backwards. After feeding, they are quick to dart away, sometimes straight up and over a roof. You can probably hear their wings buzzing as they fly. They sound like a tiny plane flying around - sort of like the sound the space vehicles made on the Jetson’s, if you can remember that TV show from the sixties.

Anna’s hummingbirds are not afraid of people. I have had them fly up in front of me and look ing my face before they fly on their merry way.

If you see a hummingbird that does not look like an Anna’s hummingbird in Oregon, it is probably a Rufous as that is the only other hummingbird common to this state, but not in the winter.

Martha Van Natta

Additional information: see Wikpedia - Anna's Hummingbird

- - Updated 11/15/2015
- - Updated 4/13/14