Alberta, Canada
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Anna's Hummingbird
Calypte anna
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General Description

By Cam Finlay

The Anna's Hummingbird seldom appears in Alberta where it is considered a rare vagrant. Anna's were indigenous to southern California. They began moving north from 1920 onward and first appeared in Canada on Vancouver Island in the late 1940s. The first Canadian Anna's nest was found in the mid 1950s north of Victoria. The only mainland breeding record has been in southwestern B.C. There are now at least 500 females nesting in and around Victoria with less than 100 in the Lower Mainland in the greater Vancouver region.

Today Anna's hummingbirds occur year around in southwestern B.C. It is thought that after the second clutch fledges in late May/early June that some of these birds move into the high country for the mountain flowers. However, they return to the nesting sites in and around Victoria by early fall where they remain to breed. Of all the North American hummingbird species, Anna's tend to roam the farthest. Each late summer and fall to early winter a few will be found in central south B.C., sometimes as far north as southern Alaska or with the very odd one in Alberta. Very few of these vagrants overwinter in these cold climes with the assistance of feeders that are kept warm. However, to date, none of these birds have nested.

Like the other hummingbirds Anna's food consists of nectar/sugar water and insects. In addition they regularly, particularly in the winter, glean spiders from nooks and crannies. The movement out of California, east into Arizona and north into Oregon, was directly tied into people leaving feeders out. It is speculated that if the abundant feeders that occur throughout the west coast were removed the Anna's population would shrink back to its original range of southern California.

Anna's raise two broods in their original range of southern California, with the first clutch laid in December and the second, two to three months later. In southern B.C. they also raise two broods with the first eggs laid in very late January and the second ones in late March. The female selects a site for the nest after she begins to defend a nearby source of nectar. The nest is placed on a horizontal twig or branch at a height of two to 10 metres above ground. Nests in winter are usually set in a sheltered spot, one that is usually one to three degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. The female builds the nest by alternating between plant down gathered on three-four successive trips and spider webs collected on two trips. She will shape the structure by pushing the material with her breast while turning frequently. Construction occurs in the early to late morning. Two eggs are laid. Incubation ranges from 12-19 days with an average of 16. Usually the two eggs hatch about 24 hours apart. Young fledge at 18-23 days from hatching. They are cared for by the female for one to two weeks after fledging.

One female that I banded in Victoria started her second clutch a day or two after the first young had left the nest. She was both incubating the eggs and feeding the fledglings up to almost the time that the second clutch hatched.

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Where to find Anna's Hummingbirds in Alberta   

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