Apr 10 2011

Branching Out

Published by at 7:40 am under Beyond Bounds,Songbirds


I couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful photo Cris Hamilton displayed on her Facebook page last week. 

Cris photographed this Anna’s hummingbird in British Columbia, Canada.  I saw several of them at Clark County (Nevada) Wetlands Park yesterday.  One hundred years ago both sightings would have been impossible. 

Until the 1930’s Anna’s hummingbirds were found only on the Pacific slope from San Francisco to Baja California, but around that time they began branching out.  

They’re surprisingly hardy birds and quite willing to go where the food is.  They eat insects and nectar and are regular visitors to hummingbird feeders.  The feeders allowed them to expand their range northward to British Columbia and southeast to eastern Arizona. One even spent last winter in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, nabbing insects at a nearby sewage treatment plant and sipping from heated hummingbird feeders, our first Pennsylvania record.

I’m usually lazy about identifying hummingbirds because we have only one species in Pennsylvania in the summer — “No need to look closely, it’s a ruby-throat.” — but when birding in southern Nevada I really have to look at them. It’s possible to see five species.  Costa’s are resident, black-chinned and Anna’s breed here, and calliope and rufous pass through in July. 

Now that an Anna’s hummingbird has graced Pennsylvania for the winter and rufous hummingbirds regularly visit PA in the fall, I ought to pay more attention at home, too.

(photo by Cris Hamilton)

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Branching Out”

  1. Pam Packon 10 Apr 2011 at 8:27 am

    That’s the most beautiful bird I’ve ever seen!

  2. Kathyon 10 Apr 2011 at 8:44 am

    How pretty! What vibrant colors.

  3. Barb Simonon 12 Apr 2011 at 10:13 am

    I saw a hummingbird that was all brown in my pear tree in Swissvale. What kind was that?

  4. Kate St. Johnon 13 Apr 2011 at 7:28 am

    In Pennsylvania you can pretty much tell what hummingbird it is based on time of year: ruby-throated in spring and summer, rufous (rarely) in fall. Rufous are rusty brown on their backs… Did you see it in the fall?

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