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Birds: Anna’s Hummingbird

Our year round visitor is a family of hummingbirds and we love them. It is one of only five hummingbird we see in the Northwest (Rufous, Caliope, Black-Chinned, Allen’s and Anna’s). Only two spend much time in the Portland metro area, the Rufous and Anna’s. We have gotten accustomed to our family, as they flit from the holly to the lucifer to the camellia and our fountain and back. I thought they nested in the branches of the large Douglas Fir in the back yard, but discovered a nest in an azalea.

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The nest was cleverly camouflaged with moss and sticks and was secured wedged in a Y on a sturdy branch amidst the leaves and flowers. My disturbing of the nest chased the hummingbirds away to another spot, where they started all over again.  So it goes.

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The ostentatious male, with his flashy red face feathers is stunningly beautiful. The bright green iridescence on his back is also a joy to see, even on dark and rainy days. The female is more shy, but her long pauses at the feeder and her tongue zipping in and out of her beak is fun to watch.

According to Sheri Williamson, in her A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, a Frenchman by the name of Rene Lesson named the Anna’s Hummingbird in the 1850’s after Anna Massena, the Duchess of Rivoli.[1]

The hummingbirds’ distinctive tisk-tisk call is audible from many yards away, as they perch on the top branches of neighbors trees.

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Janine Donoho Photo

We hope they propagate well and stay around for years to come. They brighten our day.

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One cool fact is that in the first half of the 20th century, Anna’s Hummingbirds bred only in northern Baja and southern California. Loving the nectar of tropical trees and bushes, as home owners planted exotic flowering trees and shrubs, they provided the sustenance and nesting sites, which allowed the hummingbird to greatly expand its breeding range. Our white azalea bush provided one such site.

References

[1] Williamson, Sheri, A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 199.

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