I still vividly remember seeing my first hummingbird in my backyard. This bird came over the fence and hovered right in front of me. I had no idea we even had them here; they always seemed like something that was too cool to live near me. And after a short hover, it was gone, and I ran inside to tell my mom.
It would be years before I would see another hummingbird, and in that time I would sort of forget about them.
Now, I will drop everything if there’s even a hint of a hummingbird nearby. They are easily one of my favourite birds, and I’ve often thought if I were to get a tattoo, a hummingbird would somehow need to be involved.
Latin Name: Calypte anna
Size: 10cm (4in)
Lifespan: Average of 8.5 years
Anna’s Hummingbird Description
As far as hummingbirds, they are pretty plump and larger than the other types of hummingbirds in my area. Both males and females are green-backed with greyish bellies, though males tend to be more brilliant-looking. Males also have bright pink colouring on their heads that is only visible in the right lighting.
If you’re on the west coast of North America and you’ve got a feeder, or a good set of flowers, chances are your yard could be a hummingbird’s habitat.
Out in the ‘wild’, I’ve had success finding these birds in both coniferous and deciduous forests. The first time I found a ‘wild’ hummingbird was in early spring just as the leaves were starting to grow on the trees, and I watched it check out each leaf before finally landing on the tree. Since then I’ve joked that they’re like tiny gardeners.
One of my favourite things to watch is just how territorial these pint-sized birds can get. I’ve seen more of them chasing each other well above my camera’s range than I’ve actually seen sitting on a tree or drinking nectar. I’ve even seen some chase away birds that get a little bit too curious about the hummingbird feeder.
When hummingbirds come to mind, I think most people immediately think of their speed, however, compared with the smaller rufous hummingbird in my area, Anna’s Hummingbird seems to be a little less flighty, and definitely more likely to sit still for a photo.
Who’s Anna, and Why Does She Have a Hummingbird?
Anna’s Hummingbird was named for Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli (also known as the Princes d’Essling). She had married Francois Victor Masséna, who was a bit of a bird collector, and among his large collection was Anna’s Hummingbird — at the time, of course, it was an unidentified species. René-Primevere Lesson, a naturalist tasked with cataloguing the specimens he collected on a 4-year journey from South America up the Pacific coast, decided to name this bird in honour of Anna as he thought she was quite the beauty.