Boldly colored and perky, the Anna’s hummingbird is a year-round star of the western hummingbird species along the Pacific coast. This is one of few hummingbirds to stay in most of its range throughout the year, and in doing so this member of the Trochilidae bird family brings a touch of color and personality to birders’ yards in every season. Discover more facts about the Anna's hummingbird with this informational profile, and learn to appreciate these tiny wonders even more.
- Scientific Name: Calypte anna
- Common Name: Anna's Hummingbird
- Lifespan: 7-9 years
- Size: 3.5-4 inches
- Weight: .14-.16 ounces
- Wingspan: 4.75 inches
- Conservation Status: Least concern
Anna's Hummingbird Identification
This bird's tiny size and needle-like bill immediately identify it as a hummingbird, but it takes a closer look to carefully distinguish the Anna's hummingbird from other western hummer species. The bill is black and straight, and females may have very slightly longer bills, though this can be difficult to note except at very close range or when banding the birds and examining them in the hand.
Males have an iridescent pinkish red head, throat, and neck that may appear black or reddish orange depending on the light. With so much bright color, these hummingbirds may appear at first glance to have a full pink hood, though the back of the neck is green. The chest, abdomen, and sides are gray with a green tint. Wings and tail are dark dusky black-brown and there is a pale, broken eye ring.
Female Anna's hummingbirds have a green crown, back, and tail, any of which may show some minor iridescence. The chest, throat, and abdomen are pale gray, and the pale gray throat has central dark red spots or splotches. The wings and tail are dark and there are white spots on the outer tail feathers. Females have a white patch over the eye, though the extent of the white can vary.
Juveniles are similar to females and will gradually develop their adult plumage. Males do so starting with scattered pink or reddish spots on their throats and eventually becoming the full hood-like coloration.
Like most hummingbird species, Anna’s hummingbirds are not extremely vocal. They will make a very high pitched, raspy buzz as well as “chip” and “pip” notes when perched or while chasing intruders, and their sounds and songs can be heard year-round. While singing, male Anna's hummingbirds often perch high on twigs or wires and will droop their wings slightly.
Anna's Hummingbird Habitat and Distribution
Anna’s hummingbirds can be found along the Pacific coast from central Baja to southern British Columbia, as well as in southern Arizona and extreme southwestern New Mexico. They prefer open woodland and scrubby riparian habitats, though they are well adapted to urban and suburban parks and gardens, particularly where hummingbird feeders are available.
Extreme northern and southern populations of Anna's hummingbirds may migrate, but most of the birds remain in their territory throughout the year. Occasional but rare records of winter Anna's hummingbirds have been noted in eastern Texas and western Louisiana, but these birds do not regularly wander far from their Pacific coast range.
These are solitary but abundant birds, and the fact that they usually hold their tail still while hovering can be a key to their identification. They hover often while feeding, or else perch in the open to watch over their territory.
Diet and Feeding
Anna’s hummingbirds are the carnivores of hummingbirds, and while they do feast on nectar, they typically eat more insects and spiders than most other hummingbird species. Anna's hummingbirds will even perch near spider webs to pluck off trapped insects. They will also sip at small quantities of sap, especially at times when flower nectar is scarce.
Male Anna's hummingbirds perform spectacular courtship display dives from 130 feet in the air, swooping to the ground in front of females and creating a buzz through their tail feathers at the bottom of their dive. These hummingbirds are polygamous and most of the nesting and rearing of young birds is up to the female. She builds a tiny, cup-shaped nest using plant fibers tied together with spider silk, and often decorated with moss or lichen for camouflage.
Eggs and Young
A female Anna's hummingbird will incubate a brood of 2 plain white eggs for 15-19 days and then care for the young birds for 18-22 days until they leave the nest. Anna’s hummingbirds may raise 2-3 broods per year, starting as early as late October or early November in the southernmost part of their range, and the breeding season continues through June.
Anna's hummingbirds have been recorded as hybridizing with several other hummingbird species, including black-chinned hummingbirds, Costa's hummingbirds, and Allen's hummingbirds where the different species' breeding ranges overlap.
Anna's Hummingbird Conservation
Anna's hummingbirds are not considered endangered or threatened, but they are susceptible to different threats, such as habitat loss, feral cats, and window collisions. In the northern parts of their range, harsh winter weather can be problematic, but birders who take steps to keep hummingbird nectar from freezing can help provide a reliable food source for overwintering birds.
Tips for Backyard Birders
Anna’s hummingbirds are easily attracted to yards and gardens where they can find nectar flowers and hummingbird feeders. Because these birds eat a large quantity of insects, birders should avoid using insect traps, pesticides, or insecticides of any kind that would minimize that food source, and spider webs should be left intact for Anna's hummingbirds to glean.
How to Find This Bird
Visiting nature centers, hummingbird gardens, and wildlife preserves that offer bird feeding stations with nectar feeders is a great way to spot Anna's hummingbirds, and they will often be found in open botanical gardens or areas with extensive flowerbeds. In late summer when these birds start breeding, males can be easier to spot as they make their bold courtship dives, after which they will perch in an open area to survey their territory and watch for intruders. In bright sunlight, their brilliant pink heads and throats stand out easily and help these tiny birds be more noticeable.
Explore More Species in This Family
The Trochilidae family includes every hummingbird in the world and totals more than 325 different species. While most of these birds are found in tropical regions, more northerly hummingbirds that are just as fascinating as Anna's hummingbirds include:
Don't miss any of our other wild bird fact sheets to learn more about all your favorite hummingbirds, chickadees, cardinals, finches, sparrows, flamingos, penguins, and more!