Daniel Curnow took this photo of a male Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) perched in the Tehachapi area. Anna's Hummingbirds are the species most frequently encountered in the Tehachapi Mountains.
Males like this one have brilliant reddish pink feathers on their head and neck, but they have to have the right angle of sunlight to illuminate this jewel-like plumage. The feathers that appear black on this hummingbird's face and chin will instantly turn rose pink in the sun.
Though people think of hummingbirds as just nectar feeders, they eat many tiny insects like whiteflies, spiders, midges, leafhoppers, etc. They will starve without these sources of protein, as was learned in early attempts to keep hummingbirds in captivity and provide them only with nectar.
Many people who put up hummingbird feeders to provide these little flying beauties with sugar water have far more visitors than they realize -- research has shown that hummingbirds typically wait about 15 minutes before returning to a feeder to drink again. So what residents may think is the same hummingbird or two drinking repeatedly every minute or two, may actually be a dozen different hummingbirds or more.
Female hummingbirds are single moms who do all nesting activity by themselves. They build an adorable little cup nest from downy plant fibers and spider silk, and often decorating the outside of the nest with bits of lichen, tree bark and even paint chips to provide camouflage. She then lays two eggs and raises the resulting chicks until they fledge.
The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for hummingbird is mutaanapizhi, which is pronounced moo-tana-PISHZ-eh, and it literally means "just a little man."
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: email@example.com.