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Anna's hummingbird        Images © Mark A. Chappell

A quintessential bird of lowland areas in California (and increasingly in Arizona and Oregon), Anna's hummingbird is large -- for a hummingbird -- and males have spectacularly rose-red throats and foreheads in good light.   Hummingbird gorget colors are structural (not pigmentation) and light has to be coming from the correct direction to see the full effect; also, minor angle changes can visibly alter the perceived color.   The photos of the perched males above and below were taken on solidly overcast days, so there wasn't much light, but it was more or less omnidirectional so when the birds faced the camera, their gorgets flashed.   Other photos show a young male and female (or juvenile male) Anna's in flight.   The female at the feeder has a tiny band on her leg.   Her rather drab gray-green underparts are indicative of this species (unlike the much cleaner undersides of female black-chins and Costa's hummingbirds).  The pictures were taken at Bolsa Chica wetlands (bright males; more on this page), near the feeders at Big Morongo Reserve in the California desert, near Palm Desert, California, and in Patagonia, Arizona.

Near the bottom of the page are two pictures of young Anna's hummingbirds about to fledge from their neat nest (built of spider webs and plant fibers) in Riverside, CA.   If you look at the close-up, you can see a number of tiny hummingbird flower mites on the base of the upper mandible.  This is a fascinating interaction -- the mites 'hitchhike' on hummingbirds between flowers, living mainly in the nasal openings of the bird.  When they smell the right flower nectar (the birds breath several hundred times per minute), the mites sprint down the bill onto the flower at speeds of 12 body lengths per second -- cheetah-like.   They wait on the flower to jump aboard the next hummer that comes along.   I assume these mites arrived on the babies from their mother.

  • digital captures, Canon 10D, 1D Mk. II, 1D3, or 1D4; 500 mm f4 or 800 mm f5.6 IS lenses plus 1.4X or 2X converter, extension tubes, and fill-in flash (2004, 2005, 2008, 2011)
  • nestlings: Canon 10D, 100 mm Canon macro lens. fill-in flash (2005, 2006, 2007)