Our Own Anna's Hummingbird
by Bill White '97
ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD is distinguished from other species by the male's bright,
iridescent red throat and crown. Our own Anna's Hummingbird is the
only hummingbird species seen commonly year-round in the San Diego region.
Even the ones breeding in the local mountains move down to lower elevations
during the winter months. Plentiful flowering plants and residential
feeders help sustain an increased population compared to a hundred years
ago. This species commonly ranges from Sonoma County southward, including
coastal inland areas, the Central Valley, eastward to the lower mountain
elevations, and as far south as northern Mexico. They will live at
higher elevations in the mountains during warmer months, and some will
winter in the desert areas. They also inhabit and visit the islands
off of California's coast. Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of many
species of flowering plants, preferring those with red flowers (as you
may have already noticed). They also feed on small insects and spiders.
And, of course, make full use of the many feeders that hummingbird fans
put out to attract these fascinating birds.
Hold a nickel in your hand. Toss it up a couple of times, to get
a feel of the weight of it. That's all a hummingbird weighs!
Yet, you would never guess a hummingbird's size based on its attitude!
Their behavior is entertaining to watch, but they ARE very aggressive and
very territorial. You could have a huge feeder, with gallons of sugar-water
in it, and one bird would try to claim it as their own, chasing all others
Unlike many other birds in San Diego, I haven't found anyone who
knows of any natural predator for a hummingbird in flight. Their
tremendous speed and aerobatic ability, plus a very sharp beak and feisty,
aggressive behavior apparently keeps them off the menu for most predators.
Many species of this tiny bird migrate seasonally over incredible distances.
The Rufus Hummingbird visits San Diego in both the spring and the fall,
passing through on its annual journey from Central Mexico - all the way
Enjoy this little jewel of nature, our resident Anna's Hummingbird!
by Bill White '97
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TIPS FOR YOUR OWN HUMMINGBIRD
If you would like to put out a hummingbird feeder, or already have one,
the following tips may prove helpful. Many suggest, including our
own avian expert, Ranger Dan Bylan, that it is healthier for the birds
not to use the pre-packaged hummingbird food. Instead, just mix 1
part sugar with 4 parts water, and fill the feeder with the sugar-water
Also, it is not necessary or recommended to put red food coloring in
the feeder bottle, they will find it easily with only a little red color
on the feeder, or at the tips of the feeder stations.
Remember to change the
sugar-water every 3 or 4 days -
to keep it fresh and