|Male Anna's humminbird. Photo by Lee Karney*|
Someone asked me yesterday how to tell the difference between our common rufous hummers (which arrive in March to breed and stay for the summer) and an Anna's. Other than the sure-fire solution - if it's here now it's an Anna's! - you can tell by its colouring. The male Anna's has an iridescent rose red bib covering its head and throat, and an emerald green back. There is no rufous (brownish) colouring anywhere. The female Anna's has a small rose red throat patch only and a green head. Again, no rufous colouring anywhere. Both have a partial white eye ring. The Anna's female now visiting the fuschia in our backyard (and our feeder, from time to time) seems a little longer (taller?) than the rufous hummers we're used to seeing.
A Tail with a Song
The male Anna's "sings" complex songs, especially during mating season. During it's courtship diving display (who could resist?) it "sings" a special tune with it's TAIL. Read all about it here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1011
Are you feeding Anna's this winter?
Feeding the Anna's in winter is a more serious responsibility than feeding the rufous in the spring and summer when natural food sources are plentiful. When the temperature falls close to freezing, be sure to bring your feeder in after dark (so that it doesn't freeze then crack, and to warm up the nectar a little) and put it back out early in the morning for the Anna's to breakfast on. (Anna's also feed on small insects and spiders when they're available.) And be sure to keep your feeder clean - as always.
*Photo courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service. Thank you.