There are hundreds of hummingbirds in the Americas, with less than two dozen of those species regularly occurring in the U.S. and Canada. The species we’re looking at in this article is the Anna’s hummingbird, a regular resident in the Pacific Northwest, California, and some Southwestern states like Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.
We’re about to show you some up-close and personal images of this amazing species, and share some interesting facts and information. Without wasting anymore time, let’s get to the good stuff!
Meet the Anna’s hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird overview
Anna’s are medium-sized hummingbirds with a stocky build. Their beak is black and straight. They are green along their back and sides, with grayish underparts. Males and females are easy to tell apart if you know what to look for.
Male Anna’s hummingbirds have most of the color. Their green tends to be more vibrant than females, but their head is where their difference is really apparent. A bright, rosy pink covers their throat, face and forehead. Because it is iridescent, it looks bright pink in certain light and quite dark and almost brown in others.
Female Anna’s hummingbirds green back tends to be a bit duller than males, and their underparts contain more gray. Their forehead and face do not have any pink coloring. Many do have a small patch of pink feathers on their throat. If you see a bird that has small patches of pink on their throat and head, that is probably an immature males that has not grown in his full face feathers yet.
An interesting behavior of the Anna’s hummingbird is the unique courtship displays that the males perform for the female during mating rituals. The male will slowly climb to an altitude of 30-40 meters high then rocket down towards the female swooping just inches from her. It’s kind of like he’s buzzing the tower, apparently this impresses her. The below video shows this behavior.
Anna’s are known for being very territorial, especially the males who will fiercely defend their nests. The males will even run off large insects like bumble bees or hawk moths that are simply trying to feed nearby.
Anna’s hummingbirds are found along the Pacific coast, extending from northern Baja all the way up to Washington. Some extend as far north as lower Alaska. They also extend into the southwest in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. For most of the early 20th century the Anna’s only bred in parts of Southern California and Baja California.
It’s believed that due to the planting of exotic trees, plants, and flowers, the species was able to greatly expand it’s breeding range. Since then, the hummingbird’s range has been growing. They can even be found as far north as the Alaskan panhandle in the winter months.
In much of this hummingbird’s range it is a year-round resident and does not migrate, so you can keep your feeders out all year long. They may make local movements from higher elevation sites in the summer to lower elevation in the winter.
Anna’s hummingbirds feed on nectar from flowers but also eat tree sap and a variety of small insects like mosquitoes and leafhoppers. They are known for taking flying insects right out of the air. In addition, they are happy to accept any nectar we want to provide them.
Hummingbirds burn between 6,600 and 12,000 calories per day, so they need to eat a lot. Hummingbirds also flap their wings 62 times per second, visit as many as 2,000 flowers per day, and consume more than half their body-weight in bugs and nectar each day. Nesting females have been known to eat more than a thousand insects in a single day.
Anna’s hummingbirds are common in a variety of habitats within their range including backyard gardens, open woods, coastal sage scrub, oak savannas, city parks, and other rural areas. Anna’s hummingbirds have adapted to living and thriving near humans.
Like other hummingbirds, individual birds are known for returning to the same feeding or nesting spots year after year. Providing them with food and shelter only helps the Anna’s population. Provide the hummingbirds what they need to survive and your backyard could be a hummingbird habitat.
Mating & Nesting
The mating season for Anna’s hummingbirds is between December and June. The male establishes a territory with suitable shelter and food sources, and attracts a female through the mating rituals we mentioned above.
The female Anna’s hummingbird is the one to build the nest, while the male fiercely protects his territory. She builds the nest out of delicate plant material and uses spiderwebs to hold everything together.
The nest is just big enough for her to sit in and incubate her 2 eggs for about 16 days until they hatch. Once hatched, she cares for the babies for 2-3 weeks until they fledge.
The majority of Anna’s hummingbirds do not undergo a long distance migration, preferring to stay put in their local territory year-round.
For those that do migrate, you can see by the range map above that Anna’s don’t travel very far. Those that venture to the far north come back further south to breed, and a few will cross the boarder into northern Mexico for the winter.
There are 4 types of hummingbirds common in the Pacific Northwest, once of which is the Anna’s. It is the only species that does not migrate south in search of warmer weather each year. The other 3 PNW species of hummingbirds are the Rufous, Calliope, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.
The global population of Anna’s hummingbirds is around 5 million breeding birds, with 96% of those being in the United States. The overall Anna’s population has increased by over 2% per year between 1966 and 2014.
Anna’s hummingbirds are thriving alongside humans and their population continues to grow thanks in part to so many people offering backyard feeders and sanctuaries for these amazing animals. They can become prey for cats, so be careful if you own outdoor cats.
How to attract this bird
Attracting an Anna’s hummingbird is much like attracting any type of hummingbird really, there are just a few things that birds want. They want food, water, and shelter. Offer a bird one or all of these things and you have a decent shot at attracting them to your yard.
- Put out hummingbird feeders with a mixture of sugar and water, the same is if trying to attract any type of hummingbird
- Plant or hang flowers like California fuchsia, Zauschneria californica, gooseberry, monkey flower, Penstemons, and any tube-shaped colorful flowers
- Put out a shallow birdbath
Facts about Anna’s hummingbirds
1. The average body temperature of an Anna’s Hummingbirds is 107 degrees Fahrenheit
Many Anna’s hummingbirds enter a state of torpor when temperatures get low enough, which is similar to hibernation in some ways. When this happens their hearts slow down, their breathing slows, and their body temperature can drop as low as 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. The official bird of Vancouver is the Anna’s hummingbird
Vancouver, a major city in western Canada, named the Anna’s hummingbird as their official bird. It is meant to symbolize the importance of birds to the ecosystem and build awareness about birds in the city. The runner up for official bird was the northern flicker.
3. They are named after a Duchess
So, who is Anna? This pretty species is named after Anna Massena, who was the Duchess of Rivoli in the 1800’s. Her husband, Francois Victor Massena, the 2nd Duke of Rivoli, was an amateur ornithologist, who named the Rivoli’s hummingbird. But he wasn’t the one to name the Anna’s. A friend of theirs, French naturalist Rene Lesson, collected one of the first specimens in California and named the hummingbird in her honor.
Jesse has been feeding birds in his backyard and bird watching across the country for years. He loves learning about the different species and sharing his knowledge and experiences on this website.