Thursday, February 21, 2013

Winter Hummers

I still can’t get used to humming birds in winter.  Of course our winter isn’t all that harsh, but I still think any sane humming bird should go to warmer climes.  Our winters are green and soggy.  Snow fall on half a dozen days is a lot;  freezing nights are few.

When we first moved here, over thirty years ago, a humming bird in winter was an unusual occurrence. I subscribed to the philosophy I should take down my humming bird feeder in late summer and nudge the little sweeties on their way.  What I didn’t realize is that our common summer humming bird, the rufous hummer, is a smart little creature.  They go south.  Seeing one here in the winter would be very unusual.  The hummers we do get in the winter are Anna’s hummingbirds.  They aren’t in my yard in the summertime, only in winter!  
I still don’t feed in the fall, but, as soon as the weather turned and I caught sight of of an Anna’s, my heart melted and I rushed to put out a feeder.  Later on we had a cold snap.   For over a week either Dale or I got up early to put the feeder out at first light.  We took it in every night so it wouldn’t freeze.  When it was just getting light enough to sort juncoes from white-crowned sparrows, there he would be, waiting for us.  He’d even sneak a few sips while I reached to hang the feeder!  Have you ever been tickled by a hummingbird?  

Most of the winter our regular visitor has been an immature male Anna’s, but when the weather was its nastiest we suddenly had four hummers! Big, wet snow flakes drifted down and there sat four Anna’s hummingbirds, all fluffed up.   It was as if it was too cold to argue.  They perched and bickered and mostly inhaled our sugar water.  As soon as the weather improved we were back down to one pugnacious immature male and a second who’d sneak in when the coast was clear.     

I happened to be in the yard one day when a glorious mature male perched first at one end of the yard and then the other, scolding the whole while ... but he wouldn’t come close to the feeder.  

About ten days ago the tides turned.  Now ‘Fancy Dan,’ the beautiful male Anna’s is the regular visitor and the immature male sneaks in when the coast is clear.  Fancy Dan is such a handsome fellow!  Depending on the angle of light, his iridescent feathers can be almost black .... or magnificent.  

And he knows he is magnificent.  I caught him perched, puffed, and singing his pea-pick’n heart out.  The song is so soft I can barely hear it from less than fifteen feet away.  


  1. How lucky you are to have hummers all winter. I have been tickled by a hummer. I used to have a Hawaiian style blouse that had big red hibiscus flowers on it. When I would wear it while sitting in the garden hummers would always come check out those blooms on my blouse. I would sit statue still and listen to the whirrr of their wings. I could feel the air they stirred. It was magical.

  2. Elva, I wish I had your camera. You capture them so well. Aren't they just such a delight to have around all winter tho? do the same thing when its going to freeze at night. Every morning I go out to put the bird seed out he greets me at the sugar water. He buzzes around me if I am out in the yard doing something. I think they like the company. They do make claims for the food and fight over it. Sometimes one shy one will come and sit and drink while I am right there thinking I will guard him and along comes the bully and whoosh off they go. Very entertaining. :)

  3. Beautiful capture of light and color on the hummers.

  4. lovely and enchanting for us poor Europeans with no such joys in our gardens.

  5. Green with jealousy here; both for your winter hummers and that incredible photo of Fancy Dan's gorget! We've still got a few months until our hummers return. I can't wait!

  6. The photos are really stunning. I've never seen an Anna'a Hummingbird, but a friend painted one once. I thought she was exaggerating the bright pink feathers on the throat, but now I see that's not true. They must be spectacular in real life.