Bird of the Month by Russ Chappell
This colorful green-and-gray species is an infrequent migrator and may visit your backyard year round.
Males display an iridescent patch on the throat called a gorget extending over the head, while females have a small red patch. Both genders have short legs, slender bills and broad tails.
Anna’s hummingbirds dine on nectar from a variety of flowering plants, tree sap leaking from holes created by sapsuckers, and a variety of small insects, often captured in flight. If you don't see them at a feeder or flowers, check out nearby trees and bushes, where they often perch and announce their presence with song.
During courting a male attracts the attention of a potential mate by climbing high into the sky and diving straight down at full speed, stopping abruptly a few feet in front of her, announcing his arrival with a distinctive sound created with his broad tail. Males and females are not exclusive, and either sex may mate with more than one individual per season, while the females build nests and care for the young.
Nests are constructed with an assortment of plant parts, feathers, down, and spider webs as mom sits inside the inch-high by one-half inch diameter, cup-shaped bowl, forming it around her. There are up to three broods per year, each with two half-inch by one-third-inch white eggs. Incubation lasts 16 days, and nesting time 20 days. The chicks hatch with minimal down and are virtually helpless.
They maintain a body temperature as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit, but will enter torpor to slow down breathing and heart rate when the weather cools, then magically return to full activity once the weather improves.
Anna’s hummingbirds are a welcome addition to any birder’s list, and bring an upbeat atmosphere to any backyard. To attract them, simply fill your feeder with one part sugar to three parts water, without honey or coloring, and stand by to be entertained with energetic and exciting flight demonstrations!
The Prescott Audubon Society is an official chapter of the National Audubon Society. Check it out online at PrescottAudubon.org.