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Anna’s Hummingbird

Calypte anna

Without a doubt, the Anna’s Hummingbird is the most common hummingbird found on the west coast where in some areas they are year-round residents. My home in San Diego County is such a place.

Their range has expanded from Southern California and Baja California in the early 20th Century, and today includes all of California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and even into British Columbia. We know Anna’s Hummingbirds have a wide post-breeding dispersal. As these wandering birds began finding food supplies of introduced exotic plants and artificial feeders, it seems easy to conclude it would cause a sudden expansion to their range.

Male Anna’s Hummingbirds have a curious practice when courting a mate. They dive from a height of as much as 130 feet and curve away from the ground at speeds over 50 mph and flair their outer tail feathers, creating an audible chirp. Before I learned of this practice, I thought I was hearing the call note of a California Towhee. But it wasn’t even a vocal sound at all. Now I know to look for a tiny bird hovering overhead before making its dive. They produce this chirp just before reaching the perigee of their “J” shaped arcing dive.

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