How to Identify Anna’s Hummingbirds
The Anna's hummingbird is more cold-hardy than most hummingbirds. It can be found all year along the Pacific Coast, as far north as British Columbia.
Male and Female Anna’s Hummingbirds
A stocky, medium-sized hummingbird, the Anna’s has a straight, short bill and a broad tail that extends past the wings. With bold, metallic greens above a gray belly, Anna’s is the only North American hummingbird sporting a full reddish crown. The male Anna’s hummingbird has a beautiful iridescent pinky rose-red colored crown and throat. If the color appears to be more violet than rose, the bird could be a hybrid that is the result of mating between Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds.
The female has a red patch on the throat, often forming a small gorget that is unusual for female hummingbirds. Their backs are duller, iridescent green, with drab gray underparts, and they have white markings over the eyes.
These hummingbirds are quite small, measuring about 3.9 inches from beak to tail (and weighing only 0.1 to 0.2 ounce!). They have a wingspan of 5 1/4 inches.
Anna’s Hummingbird Facts
- Scientific name: Calypte anna
- Family: Hummingbird
- Named for: Anna de Belle Massena, the wife of a French prince and bird collector
- Body temperature: Though it may seem very warm to humans, an Anna’s average body temperature is 107 degrees Fahrenheit. But it can drop to 48 degrees when it goes into torpor, a kind of deep sleep, during cold weather. It takes about 20 minutes to “awaken.”
- Heart rate: An average human heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute, but an Anna’s is much faster, beating around 600 times per minute!
- Similar to other hummingbirds, Anna’s take zero steps because of their very small legs. Instead, they rely on flying and landing to move around.
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Anna’s Hummingbird Nest
Anna’s hummingbirds breed in winter and spring. After mating, the female uses spider silk to bind together pieces of plants, hair, feathers and lichen to make a nest among twiggy branches of a tree or vine. Her two pearly white eggs hatch in two weeks, and the chicks fledge three weeks later.
Young Anna’s hummers take to the skies at an early age—they’re typically between 18 and 26 days old when they set off on their first flights.
Anna’s Hummingbird Call and Sounds
Anna’s hummingbirds are more vocal than most hummingbirds. The male sings a buzzy, scratchy series of notes to attract a mate. This is rare among northern temperate hummingbirds, though their squeaks and buzzes are hardly musical to the human ear. Listen to their song.
Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
If you’re lucky enough, you may see a male Anna’s hummingbird perform a unique courtship ritual. To attract a mate, the male puts on an aerial display that starts with hovering a few yards in front of a female. He ascends above the treetops, then dives toward the ground, pulling up with a loud screech made by his tail feathers. He does the same to intimidate intruders (including people). The male zooms upwards as much as 130 feet when performing this display.
What Do Anna’s Hummingbirds Eat?
Their favorite foods are nectar, sugar water, spiders, small insects like midges and leaf hoppers and tree sap. The high-protein diet might help them tolerate colder conditions. Bring them to your backyard with hummingbird feeders and nectar flowers.
Anna’s Hummingbird Range Map
This species is more cold-hardy than other hummingbirds. Look for them year-round along the Pacific Coast, as far north as British Columbia. A familiar sight from California up to Washington state, Anna’s visit backyard gardens, parks, streams and open woodlands. (You won’t believe how many Anna’s hummingbirds visited this Washington yard.)
Anna’s range and numbers have grown thanks to feeders and their attraction to both ornamental and native flowers. During the early 1900s, they were found primarily in northern Baja California and southern California. Anna’s hummingbirds now sometimes wander north to Alaska. Their range also extends eastward into Arizona, Nevada, Utah and western Texas, though they’ve been spotted as far away as New York and Newfoundland.
Outside the breeding season, they may move to higher elevations in search of food, and some migrate east and west across California and Arizona.
Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.
Next, check out questions about hummingbird feeders answered by experts.