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Birdwatching: Step up to the plate for the Anna’s hummingbird

By Dr. Madeline Kalbach

For the Observer

Published on November 14, 2017 4:29PM

Anna’s hummingbirds are year-round residents of the Willapa Bay watershed and Long Beach Peninsula.

MADELINE KALBACH PHOTOS

Anna’s hummingbirds are year-round residents of the Willapa Bay watershed and Long Beach Peninsula.

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Anna’s hummingbirds appear to wear feathered helmets that change colors in different light conditions. Jockeying for positions at feeders, they sometimes resemble World War I airplanes engaged in aerial dogfights.

Anna’s hummingbirds appear to wear feathered helmets that change colors in different light conditions. Jockeying for positions at feeders, they sometimes resemble World War I airplanes engaged in aerial dogfights.


It is time once again to remind ourselves that the Anna’s hummingbird stays with us all winter. If it is a cold winter, we will all need to step up to the plate by providing the hummer with some delicious nectar on a daily basis. All the flowers will soon be gone and most of its favorite insects will have hidden themselves away in the tree bark or somewhere else for the winter.

The Anna’s hummingbird is with us in every season. It comes to our hummingbird feeders to regale us with its antics at feeders, especially when there are several vying for a position when spring begins. Some Peninsula residents have reported well over 10 Anna’s at their feeders at the same time. It doesn’t take long for the hummers to settle into their nesting territories. This generally reduces the number to a pair at a feeder. In winter, the Anna’s stays here in its coastal habitat on the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

If you see a tiny bird that can hover in mid-air like a helicopter with is wings whirring away like high-speed propellers, it is likely to the Anna’s hummingbird. The male will have an emerald green body with a rosy-red crown and throat. The Anna’s tail is also green with white spots on the ends of three of the outer tail feathers on each side. Its underparts are grayish. The female is plain green, grayish underbody, and sometimes has red spots on its throat.

The Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and coastal areas offer the best habitat for the Anna’s, including gardens, open woods, the edges of steams and city parks. This little bird is only about 4 inches in size but it is hardy and a permanent resident. But despite its hardiness, we should still step up to the plate for this magnificent little critter that entertains us in every season. We can help the Anna’s to survive the winter storms and windy days so that it can continue to show off its vibrant spring colors when it begins to think about settling down and having a family come spring!

Hummingbirds prefer nectar made from 1 part pure sugar to 3 parts water. Make certain to sterilize feeders with bleach if there is any sign of mold; thoroughly rinse before refilling with nectar.



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