Anna’s hummingbirds are native to the west coast of North America, expanding east to the western slopes of the Cascade and Sierra mountain ranges. They are also found in the southern third of Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and extreme northwestern Mexico.
Unlike most other bird species, Anna’s hummingbirds primarily nest in winter and spring. Breeding populations build their nests in chaparral or scrub oak habitats in their southern range, while farther north the birds commonly nest in fir trees.
These hummingbirds prefer to build nests on the fork of a tree or shrub, preferably near an abundant nectar source. We will discuss nest placement, materials, and other details below. Read on to discover more about the fascinating Anna’s hummingbird!
Anna's Hummingbird in the nest, incubating eggs
Anna’s hummingbird habitat primarily consists of chaparral environments, but they also reside in savannahs, coastal, scrub, riparian woodlands, and urban areas - anywhere flowering plants are abundant. Nests are placed near a nectar source, typically on a horizontal branch of a tree or shrub.
Anna’s hummingbirds nest in the same territory each year, but not necessarily in the same place. They do not reuse the same nest either but will recycle old nest materials to rebuild a new nest.
It is possible to find Anna’s hummingbirds nesting in backyards if the habitat is suitable. They require trees or shrubs with dense foliage for nesting and a nearby nectar source. If your yard offers trees and a healthy flower garden, you may attract this hummingbird.
Female Anna's hummingbird sat on the nest
Anna’s hummingbirds do not use nest boxes. They prefer to build their nests in the fork of a horizontal branch.
Sycamore, oak, and eucalyptus trees are common nesting sites for Anna’s hummingbirds in southern California and the southwest. In British Columbia, Douglas fir and Grand fir are the most common nesting trees. They also utilize various shrubs, vines, and even poison oak.
Anna’s hummingbirds usually build their nests 6 to 20 feet off the ground. Nests may occasionally be higher than 20 feet.
Anna's hummingbird nests are usually between six and twenty feet off the ground
Anna’s hummingbird nests are cup-shaped. The exterior walls typically contain a combination of willow, sycamore leaves, cattail, eucalyptus flowers, thistle, and small feathers. The inner cup is lined with softer, downy materials, including feathers, hair, and plants.
The nest cup is bound with spider webs, insect cocoon fibers, and occasionally hair and stiff plant materials to help hold it together and keep it in place. These hummingbirds also decorate their nests with moss, lichens, dead leaves, and other plant pieces.
The exterior of an Anna’s hummingbird nest typically measures 3.8 to 4.4 cm in diameter and 3.2 to 4.1 cm in height. The interior averages 2.5 cm in diameter and an inside depth of 1.6 to 1.9 cm.
Close up of the nest of a Anna's hummingbird with a young chick inside
Anna’s hummingbirds breeding in California, particularly in chaparral habitat, begin nesting in November or December - with the onset of winter rains that set the chaparral currant in bloom. Due to harsher winter weather in British Columbia, breeding populations in this region do not start nesting until January or February.
Males arrive within breeding territories early to stake claim to an area with abundant food sources. Female hummingbirds arrive a few weeks after the males and establish their own territories in which they will build their nests.
Nesting season for Anna’s hummingbirds typically lasts five or 6 months. For populations in warmer regions, the breeding season begins in November or December and typically wraps up in May. In colder regions, nesting begins in January or February and may run through July.
Anna’s hummingbird populations nesting in chaparral usually lay eggs around January or February. Breeding pairs farther north may lay two to three months later, depending on winter conditions.
Unlike many other bird species, Anna’s hummingbirds breed during winter and spring - likely coinciding with chaparral currant blooms, plus it cuts down on competition with other hummingbirds.
Winter breeding populations of this hummingbird are found from southern British Columbia, south along the west coast to northern Baja and southwestern Arizona.
Anna's hummingbird gathering nesting material to build the nest
Anna’s hummingbirds form their nest cups by alternating between downy plant material and spider webs. The spider webs help hold the nest together. The cup is shaped by the female as she sits in the nest and pushes the material with her breast while turning.
On average, construction takes about seven days, with the majority of the building process occurring between early morning and mid-day.
A variety of plant materials are used in the construction of Anna’s hummingbird nests. Willow, cattail, sycamore leaves, thistle, eucalyptus flower, and velvet groundsel are among the most commonly used nesting materials.
Feathers and animal hair are also utilized in exterior and interior construction. Then, of course, spider webs and insect cocoon fibers help hold the nest together.
Female Anna’s hummingbirds build the nest. Males do not contribute. In fact, the female typically builds her nest before finding a partner.
Close up of a female Anna's hummingbird building the nest
Anna’s hummingbird eggs are oval-elliptical or sub-elliptical and about the size of a jelly bean. Egg size ranges from 11.82-13.84 mm in length and 7.97-9.10 mm in width. The shells are white, matte, and smooth.
Two eggs per nest are typical for Anna’s hummingbirds. On rare occasions, three eggs in one nest can occur.
Male Anna’s hummingbirds do not sit on the eggs, only the female incubates. Incubation usually lasts 16 or 17 days.
Two unhatched Anna's hummingbird eggs in the nest
Baby Anna’s hummingbirds leave the nest between 18 and 23 days after hatching. However, there are reports of nestling periods lasting as long as 30 days. The broad range in dates is likely attributed to environmental factors, such as inclement weather.
Fledglings depend on their parents for food for another one to two weeks after first leaving the nest.
Anna’s hummingbirds produce two to three broods per breeding season. In warmer climates, this season typically ends in May. However, in colder climates where the hummingbirds often nest later, the breeding season often runs through mid-summer.
Anna's hummingbird feeding hungry chicks in the nest
Anna’s hummingbirds may abandon their nests if they do not feel secure or if the eggs are unfertilized - which they can often sense. It is important never to disturb a hummingbird nest, lest it cause the female to abandon her eggs.
You will not find Anna’s hummingbirds nesting on the ground. They prefer to build their nests at least six feet up on a branch.
At night, Anna’s hummingbirds sleep on a branch at least 8 feet off the ground. Females only remain in the nest during the night while they are incubating.
The best way to attract nesting Anna’s hummingbirds is to provide their preferred habitat. Your yard will need trees or shrubs with obscured branches at least 6 feet off the ground and ample flowering plants to provide the hummingbirds with nectar.
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