The Exquisite Charm of Hummingbirds: Up Close and Personal

The Exquisite Charm of Hummingbirds: Up Close and Personal

Animal skin is fascinating, with each one possessing a unique texture that sets it apart from others. The feathers of birds are especially stunning, so much so that it’s easy to imagine these brightly-colored creatures as tropical inhabitants.

From the 1950s onward, the Calypte anna, commonly known as Anna’s hummingbird, has significantly increased its breeding range towards the north and east. This type of hummingbird is widespread in much of its habitat and has proven to be well-suited to suburban areas, often found in gardens, chaparral, and open wooded spaces. Its adaptability allows it to thrive in a diverse array of environments, including streamside groves, coastal sage scrub, city parks, and open oak woodland. Although it is most commonly found in lowlands and lower mountain slopes, it may sometimes be spotted in high mountain meadows during late summer.

The tough and resilient hummingbird species found along the Pacific Coast is a year-round resident, braving the winter months in regions where other species of hummingbirds don’t dwell. Unlike its counterparts, this bird is more vocal and the male hummingbirds have a distinct buzzy tune that they sing while perched. With time, the species has broadened its habitat range, which is possibly due to the availability of flowers and feeders in urban gardens. Now, it can also be found nesting in areas as far north as British Columbia and eastward to Arizona.

When it comes to feeding, these creatures have a particular preference for flowers. They are experts at hovering while extending their bills and long tongues deep into the center of the flower to extract nectar. While at feeders, they may either hover or perch. To catch small insects, they might fly out and snatch them in midair or hover to pluck them from foliage. When it comes to raising their young, the female is responsible for feeding them. She sticks her bill deep into their mouths and regurgitates tiny insects, which may be mixed with nectar. The young usually take their first flight at around 18-23 days of age.

The process of egg incubation is solely done by the female for a period of 14-19 days. Once hatched, the female feeds the newborns by inserting her beak deep into their mouths and regurgitating small insects mixed with nectar. The young chicks typically take their first flight at around 18-23 days of age and feed mostly on nectar and insects. They can gather nectar from flowers and also consume tiny insects. Additionally, they may consume sugar-water mixtures found in hummingbird feeders.

The nesting season for Anna’s hummingbirds can start as early as December. During courtship, the male bird performs an impressive display by hovering midair while singing a buzzy song, then flying higher before making a steep dive towards the female with a loud popping sound at the end. He may also shuttle back and forth in front of the female. These birds usually build their nests on branches of trees or shrubs, but they can also be found on wires, vines, or under eaves. The nest is typically located 4-25 feet above the ground, but it can be higher or lower. The female builds a compact cup-shaped nest using plant fibers, spider webs, and feathers, lining it with soft plant down. To camouflage the outside, lichens are often used.


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