California Hummingbirds–Calypte Anna (Anna’s Hummingbird)

2.  Calypte anna, Anna’s Hummingbird.  This is a common backyard bird, and a year-round resident in most areas.  The Anna’s Hummingbird is one of only three species that are permanent residents of the United States (Allen’s and Costa’s are the other two). This bird’s length is 3.5 inches.  They will make a very high pitched, raspy buzz as well as “chip” and “pip” notes when perched or while chasing intruders.  All ages and sexes have a thin, long, straight black bill as well as a long-sloping forehead, and they hold their tail still while hovering. 

Male Description 

Adult males have a dark, iridescent rose-colored gorget, forehead, and crown.  The gorget has elongated feathers projecting to the sides.  There is a small white spot or streak behind the eye.  The breast is a grayish with some green spots.  The back, rump, and sides are a metallic bronze green.  There are white tufts on each side of the rump.  The dark gray tail is rounded at the tip with the middle pair of tail feathers green.  

Female Description 

Adult females have a dark grayish brown forehead, metallic bronze-green top of the head, white/grayish throat with a few dark rose feathers.  Also has a small white spot behind the eye.   The auricular region (part of bird’s head related to the ear) is dusky. The underparts are a dull grayish white or brownish gray with some green spots, and dark wing feathers.  The back is metallic bronze-green.  There are white tufts on each side of the rump.  The two central tail feathers are metallic bronze-green, and the three outer tail feathers on each side have broad white tips, black central portions, and bronzy green bases. 

Immature Description 

Immature birds resemble adult females without the throat markings. 


One of the most distinctive behaviors of the Anna’s Hummingbird is the male’s courtship flight dive. He flies 120 feet in the air and then plummets at a speed up to 65 miles per hour. At the bottom of the dive, he makes a loud, distinctive popping noise, called the “dive noise.” The origin of the dive noise is not fully understood, but is thought to be mostly vocal. The vocalization may or may not be supplemented with noise from air rushing through the feathers. In addition to the dive noise, the very vocal Anna’s Hummingbird makes a variety of buzzes, chips, and chatters. Both males and females defend feeding territories, although males defend them more diligently and for a longer period of time. Anna’s hummingbirds are the carnivores of hummingbirds, and while they do feast on nectar, they typically eat more insects and spiders than other hummingbird species.  They will perch near spider webs to pluck off trapped insects.  They are solitary, but abundant birds.   


The earliest North American hummingbird to nest.  Eggs may be laid in December.  Males and females do not form lasting pair bonds. Females nest in yards, chapparal thickets, wooded canyons, and low, wooded slopes.  Females construct the nest, incubate the eggs, and feed the nestlings on their own. They build their nests on a wide variety of surfaces, most often on the branch of a shrub or tree at heights varying from 3-27 feet from the ground, situated near suitable food sources. Nests are cup-shaped, made of plant fibers, spider webs, and feathers, with a lichen exterior. The female incubates two eggs for 14-19 days. She feeds and cares for them by herself until they become independent at 18-23 days.  Raises two or three broods each season. 

Favorite Plants

Anna’s Hummingbirds feed on nectar from flowers and feeders, as well as small insects and spiders that they catch in the air or glean from tree trunks and branches. They also visit sapsucker holes and feed on sap and insects attracted to the holes.  Their favorite flowers include Heuchera (coral bells), Eucalyptus, Fuchsia, Chaenomeles (flowering quince), Ribes speciosum (fuchsia-flowered gooseberry), Penstemon, Salvia elegans (pineapple sage), Nicotiana (tree tobacco), Trichostema lanatum (woolly blue curls). 


Anna’s Hummingbirds live in a wide variety of habitats, including open woods. Chaparal is their traditional habitat, although in recent years they have been found more often in suburban gardens where hummingbird feeders and exotic plantings provide them with food throughout the year.

This entry was posted in Attracting Hummingbirds, Hummingbird Flowers, Hummingbirds, Identifying Hummingbirds and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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