In Scope: Anna's Hummingbird

annas hummingbird drawing


And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. ~ Genesis 1:20


Update: March 9th, 2013

    We've had a wonderful year of observing the Anna's Hummingbirds here at Wasell Gardens ~ at the end of last year and the first part of this year was their breeding season ~ some Anna's may still be finishing raising their broods.  I'm always amazed that they can survive such cold temperatures and even raise young at the coldest time of the year.  Thankfully for them, we had a mostly mild winter, with only a few nights dipping into the twenties and teens this past winter. 

    Now winter is coming to a close and the Rufous Hummingbirds are now arriving and are ready to compete with the Anna's for our feeders ~ I'll be putting up extra feeders soon to accommodate all the guests !  I love hummingbirds and it makes me very happy to have the Anna's and the Rufous' together again !  Remember to keep your feeders up year round for our Anna's Hummingbirds if you live in the Pacific Northwest.  To find out more about the hummingbirds and other birds we are seeing in our area, check out my blog page regularly as I post there most often.  Happy Hummingbirding !

 Update: March 14th, 2012

    The Rufous Hummingbirds are here !  As promised, I am writing to update you on how the two species of hummingbirds (the Anna's and the Rufous) interact with one another.

    The Anna's Hummingbirds are still visiting our feeders daily, even though the Rufous Hummingbirds are also visiting.  I have read a lot about how territorial Rufous Hummingbirds can be ~ and have even seen this behavior in action !  The Rufous Hummingbirds have been known to chase any other bird out of their territory, even birds many times their size ! Because of this fact, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well the Rufous and Anna's Hummingbirds are getting along at our feeders.  Both species seem to visit the feeders at different times and give one another their space.  Hopefully this will continue as more Rufous Hummingbirds arrive.  Right now they are getting along just fine !

    So far I have recorded multiple sightings of a little Rufous Hummingbird male and one sighting of a female Rufous.  We saw our first Rufous on March 9th, right on time as my records from past years show.  I look forward to sharing both photos and videos of the Rufous Hummingbirds as more birds arrive.  In the meantime, I spent some time getting more videos of the Anna's Hummingbirds on one of the few sunny days we've had lately.  I got some good footage at the feeder in our garden area that I think you will enjoy. You can also check out the Photo Gallery page for more Anna's Hummingbird photos.

Update: February 13th, 2012

    February's update on the Anna's Hummingbirds that visit our garden comes with heightened activity at our feeders and lots of new information to share with you.  Anna's visits have really picked up in the last month.  We have frequent visits from the Anna's Hummingbirds throughout the day.  We usually see a single hummingbird at a time; its rare to see two Anna's Hummingbirds at the feeder at once.

annas hummingbird male pic

Anna's Hummingbird male....


   We also put out a second feeder for them at our living room window since the hummingbirds were continually looking for a feeder at that location (they have excellent memory and we've had a feeder there before).

    As for the 'Yuletide' Camellia, a couple more beautiful flowers have opened up on the plant and it is budding prolifically.  Although I have not seen the Anna's Hummingbirds drinking from the flowers yet, I will just have to continue to watch and wait !

    I will continue to update you each month as I observe our beautiful Anna's.  Soon the Rufous Hummingbirds will be here and I will have much to write about the interaction between the two species !  Thank you for checking in and I look forward to updating you again in March ! 

Update: January 18th, 2012

    As promised, I am updating all of you on the results of my research so far on the Anna's Hummingbirds and how they respond to the winter-flowing plants mentioned in the article below.

yuletide camellia picture


Camellia 'Yuletide' ~ with two red flower buds.....

    Since before Christmas, I've been observing the Anna's Hummingbirds and how they respond to the 'Yuletide' Camellia.  In addition to our already established garden, we've created a beautiful little habitat for the hummingbirds with a 'Yuletide' Camellia, a hummingbird feeder, and a rose climbing a trellis.  By adding the rose in addition to the camellia, we've provided perching places for the hummingbirds.  We've had great success with the hummingbirds using our habitat.

    The day after we added a 'Yuletide' Camellia to our habitat, the Anna's Hummingbirds were already hovering around it and trying to get to the unopened flowers.  One male Anna's has claimed our garden as his territory.  We've been able to watch him as he displays for the females who visit the habitat.  He is quite a show off and is a delight to watch!  The hummingbirds that visit are very interested in the 'Yuletide' Camellia and will definitely be sipping nectar from the flowers when they open.

    Anna's Hummingbirds are a hardy bunch.  They come to our garden in all kinds of weather.  Here is a photo I took of one of the female Anna's that come to the feeder even in the snow.

annas hummingbird in snow

Anna's Hummingbird female in the snow....

     Having a hummingbird feeder outside in the freezing weather brings with it the challenge of finding ways to keep the nectar unfrozen.  The best solution we've come up with is to run the feeder under hot water each morning until the ice in the feeder breaks up and dissolves into liquid once more.  Be sure to do this with plastic feeders only, since a glass feeder will break if you immediately run it under hot water while its frozen.  All plastic feeders are the best for the freezing weather because they don't break like glass feeders when the sugar water freezes and expands inside them.   I also check on the feeder throughout the day when it is snowing to keep the snow from covering the 'flower' holes.  These tips work to keep nectar available to our hummingbirds.

In Scope: December 2011   

    Its Christmas time, the time we celebrate when Jesus came to earth as a baby.  We put up lights and decorate to remind everyone that He is the Light of the World.  We give gifts to one another to remember Jesus, God's Gift to the world and to show one another love.  This Christmas, I would like to share with you some of God's glitter and jewels of the season, the Anna's Hummingbird!

     Most of us think of hummingbird season as a spring through summer event.  We look forward to it the rest of the year and are excited to see them back in spring.  But did you know that some parts of the country have hummingbirds year round?  That's right ~ and Western Washington is one of these areas.  In Scope this month, I am featuring our year round hummingbird, the Anna's.  In our area, we most often see the Rufous Hummingbirds in the spring and summer, but our year round delight is the Anna's.


Fun Facts

    • Anna's Hummingbirds are one of the earliest breeding birds in North America.  The breeding season starts in December ~ sometimes Anna's Hummingbirds have laid their eggs before January 1st!


    • Because flowers are scarce in winter, Anna's Hummingbirds do appreciate a nectar feeder.  But did you know that God created the wild gooseberry plant to flower in December?  Anna's Hummingbirds depend on plants like these for food.  Anna's also may eat tree sap from the holes that sapsuckers create.


    • God created hummingbirds to go into a state called torpor at night.  Torpor is when a hummingbirds temperature drops and its heart rate and respiration slow significantly in order to conserve energy and survive cold nights.  Anna's have been observed to stay in torpor all day during very cold weather.  Incubating females cannot go into torpor, however, because they have to keep their body temperature up to warm the eggs.


    • Anna's Hummingbirds are year round in most of their range.  But they may move within their local range after the breeding season to find more flowers.


    • God created hummingbirds to see in the ultraviolet range of color, a range that we cannot see with our eyes.  Nectar containing flowers have ultraviolet color patterns on them to tell hummers, 'nectar is here'!


    The Anna's Hummingbird's scientific name is Calypte anna.  It is a medium sized hummingbird at 3 1/2 - 4 inches long (9-10 cm).  The male and female look different from one another.  The male has a gorgeous metallic magenta crown and gorget, a green metallic back and gray chest.  The female also has a metallic green back, and a green chest, but she is also adorned with a spotty red throat and white tips on her outer tail feathers.  Young Anna's Hummingbirds look a lot like the female, but are without the throat patch.

    The diet of the Anna's Hummingbird is mainly insects and nectar.  They are attracted to feeders filled with sugar water.  Their preferred habitats are gardens, woods and dense shrubby areas with small trees.

    The breeding season of the Anna's is from December to June.  The nest of the Anna's Hummingbird is made up of small sticks and lichen on a protected horizontal branch.  The female lays 2 white eggs in the small cup shaped nest.

    The range of the Anna's Hummingbird is from British Colombia, down the Pacific Coast in Washington, Oregon and California.  They can also be found in Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.  The Anna's Hummingbird is a year round resident within their range; they do not migrate.


  At this time of year I also think about a very special woman in the Bible named Anna.  She saw Jesus as a baby when His parents came to the temple to dedicate Him to God.  She had been waiting a very long time to see the coming of the Savior and was so happy when she finally was able to see Him.  I think of how special it is when I get to see a bird I have wanted to see for a long time, especially a hummingbird!  How much more to see the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!  She is mentioned in Luke 2:36-38.

  And there was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was very old, having lived with her husband seven years from her maidenhood,
  And as a widow even for eighty-four years.  She did not go out from the temple enclosure, but was worshiping night and day with fasting and prayer.
  And she too came up at that same hour, and she returned thanks to God and talked of [Jesus] to all who were looking for the redemption (deliverance) of Jerusalem.

                                               ~ Luke 2:36-38

    The Anna's Hummingbird is an amazing creature, a beautiful jewel in God's Creation.  They are like a delightful breath of spring on chilly, winter days.  It is awesome to me how God created them and cares for them as they raise their young at one of the hardest times of the year.  They remind me of how God takes care of us and how much more important we are to Him than the hummingbirds.

    I would like to close by quoting Matthew 6:26.  Its one of my favorite scripture verses in the Bible.

    "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them.  Are you not worth much more than they?"

                                                  ~ Matthew 6:26

    Until next time as we look at yet another one of God's fascinating birds In Scope ~ Merry Christmas and God Bless You!

    By, Jessi Wasell