Winter with Anna’s Hummingbirds

Anna's Hummingbird, Northern California

Anna’s Hummingbird in snow (male), Northern California

In some places on the west coast of North America, depending on latitude, the Anna’s hummingbird can be found all year long.


Interestingly, in the first half of the 20th century, Calypte anna were only seen in California and Baja California.  But with the planting of exotic flowering trees and gardens, this tiny, sparkling bird successfully expanded its breeding range.


Calypte anna map.svg

Anna’s range map. Green= breeding & wintering; Blue=wintering. Courtesy Wikipedia.

In addition to California and Baja, they now breed in several other westerm U.S. states and Canada.  They winter as far north as British Columbia.   More info about Anna’s Hummingbird here.


When we first moved to our property in northern California, we only had hummingbirds in the warm months.  At 2,300′ altitude, we have occasional winter snow and ice.  Calypte anna have a body temperature of approximately 107 degrees Fahrenheit, and need warmth.


But the hummingbirds, we knew, lived just 20 miles away in the lower elevations all year round, even the winter.


So we installed several nectar feeders, kept them filled and cleaned throughout the year, even though the hummingbirds were not present in winter.


Then male Anna’s started showing up at the feeders, and staying through the winter.  A few years later, the females wintered here too.  I am happy to report, they are now here rain or shine, summer or winter.


Yesterday I glanced over to see a male at the feeder, and then, as if to say hello, he lifted from the feeder, buzzed his wings and stayed in place.  At that moment the sun, in its low winter angle, came right through the fluttering wings.  There was no color because the sun was blinding, but instead it was an apparition — a tiny angel at our feeder.   Blissful.


For glorious year-round hummingbird watercolors: janetweightreed 10 at

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

46 thoughts on “Winter with Anna’s Hummingbirds

    • Hi Sharon — I’m happy you enjoyed the Anna’s h-b, and it’s great to know they are Las Vegas, too. And I am certain you will enjoy Janet’s blogs, her art is an inspiration. Always a pleasure to have you stop by…. 😀

  1. What a wonderful post…and aren’t you fortunate to have these little angels staying with you all year round. Last time I watched them in this way was when i stayed with good friends outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Sitting on their porch, watching these magical creatures was absolutely joy. Thank you, for more fascinating information. Janet:)

    • It was a delight to share the hummingbird post with you, Janet, and espec. to share your wonderful watercolor hummingbirds with my readers. Hummingbirds are, as you say, absolute joy. Thanks so much for your visit today and every day. 😀

    • Wow, Sherry, this is fun news! Rufous in NYC in December! I’m glad that winter was relatively mild, and she could stay through to the spring. I think it’s really terrific that so many people took an interest in her. I like the way she stayed warm on ground lights. Thanks for the great story! 😀

    • Hummingbirds are not easy to identify, they are SO fast! I know we both live in the relativity of the Bay Area, Jan, so you have the Anna’s at this time of year, it is the only species here year round. Rufous and Allen’s and a few others show up in the summer. Most people in the country do not get them in winter, we are lucky here. 😀

  2. One of the greatest moments I had with birds was the day that a Hummingbird approached and hovered at about 20 inches from my face and was looking directly into my eyes! I was forever captive! Thanks Jet for reminding me! 🙂

  3. What an amazing encounter! Loved the info you supplied about our Annas. I just posted a picture of our Anna’s sentinel who sits in the apple or the fig tree guarding the feeder I provide. Have you ever had your little visitors tap on the window if you’re not getting the feeder cleaned and hung out in time?

    • One of our feeders attaches to the window via suction cups, and they are at our window so much, and so close, that we can see it’s head vibrating from the lapping motion. Their tongues are so long they wrap under the jaw and up the back side of the head and skull. We can see the tongue vibrating inside at the crown of the head! And I love hearing about your Anna’s sentinel, Gunta — they certainly keep us on our toes, don’t they?! Thanks so much! 😀

  4. You spoil them(!) The first time I saw a hummingbird was in BC one summer a few years back. It was so quick we weren’t sure what we were seeing until our eyes clued in a little. Seen many since then, and always a joy – although never sure what kind, they are so fast…

    • You’re right, pc, they are so very quick! And yes, we do spoil them. 😉 British Columbia is rich with hummingbirds (primarily four species), but in the winter months (and I know you’re outdoors adventuring in the snow) you can pretty much count on the hummingbird being an Anna’s. Thanks so much for stopping by — always a treat. 😀

  5. We don’t get the Anna’s here. But I just posted some pics of our winter residents — must be one the same wavelength, Jet. They’re showing up now that the feeders are back out. Love ’em! Beautiful shot of the Anna’s…the snow makes the picture.

  6. How wonderful! I am very content & confident in the humming bird’s happiness with the home you’ve provided. Much love & joy to you this Holiday Season!

  7. I am so glad I arrived on time and our beautiful feathered friend hadn’t flown away,despite the snow!How sweet a post and a bird,dear Jet,and a lovely “Athena” photo!And what a sensitive heart you have.You intalled the nectar-feeders and they were so eager to honour them.Winter is more beautiful with those little souls flying around!Have a wonderful sunny weekend & with more flying-visitors around 🙂

    • Winter certainly is more beautiful with the “little souls” of hummingbirds flying around, so true, dear Doda. It has been such a delight for me since I wrote this post, because it heightened my awareness to their presence and I have seen and heard so many the last few days espec. Thank you so much, Doda, for your delightful comment and honored visit. I hope you are having a splendid weekend~~ 😀 😀

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