Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Escape in San Diego, Part 3: Anna's Hummingbird

So the seals, whales, and squirrels were awesome, and the gulls, egrets, and pelicans were fun, but probably my favorite creature that we met on our San Diego trip was one of the smallest things we saw:

This male Anna's Hummingbird was super tiny (as hummingbirds are), but I tell you, he was the star of the show. He had a patch of the La Jolla seaside cliffs staked out, right next to the sidewalk, and almost every time walked by the area -- several times over the course of two days -- this guy would be sitting on one branch or another, looking around eagerly and singing his little heart out with tiny wheezy trills:

I've never seen such a bold hummingbird before. And I don't know if this is a characteristic of Anna's Hummingbirds in general, or if this guy was just especially cheeky, but he cared not the slightest that streams of people were walking past just a few feet away from him, or that I was sitting there clicking my camera at him for minutes at a time. He'd flit off, presumably to inspect the nearby flowers, but then he'd always come back again and resume his show.

And really, he was something to see. All those feathers on his face look black in the first two pictures because they're not yet reflecting the light toward me. But when he turned his head just right...

If you want to attract some attention (some female attention perhaps?), that's how you do it. I couldn't tear myself away from this guy!

The range of colors that he produced was just dazzling -- and he was even brighter in real life than what the camera shows, although this is a pretty close approximation, as I remember it. I love the rusty maroons when the feathers just barely catch the light:

And the deep blue that starts to creep in at the really intense angles:

I took tons of pictures of this little fellow during several visits to his spot, and he was probably one of the best photography subjects I've ever had -- certainly the most obliging bird I've encountered!

Who would've guessed that such a tiny bird could have such a big personality?

I took a brief video of the little guy as well. Unfortunately, you can't hear his call, and the color isn't as good (or as accurate) as it is the pictures, but I love the way he raises and lowers his feathers, flashing that iridescence like a beacon in every direction.

And with that, the San Diego trip is now officially over -- and I think I saved the best for last. Here in Connecticut, it's gray and raining, and the snow is gone, but hopefully the weather will brighten up soon so I can get back out and visit my usual haunts. It's lots of fun to explore new places and see new things, but I do miss my familiar woods when I'm away!


  1. What a beautiful hummingbird! I would love to see such stunning feathers in person. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Have a lot of them feeding here in WA. Some also have brilliant orange colors like this. Maybe put up a feeder.

  2. Thanks, Alissa! From what I've read, these guys are common all over the west coast, so keep your eyes open for them the next time you're out there!