Natural Sightings #650 - Anna's Hummingbird.JPG

An Anna's Hummingbird lands on a hummingbird feeder to sip some nectar.

Patrick Nance took this photo at his home in Stallion Springs of an Anna's Hummingbird as it landed on a hummingbird feeder to sip some nectar. Patrick used a Nikon D7500 to take this exceptionally beautiful image.

Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) is the most common hummingbird species to be found in the Tehachapi Mountains. These colorful birds have emerald green backs and bellies, and the males also have shimmering rose-pink feathers on their throat and head.

The iridescent patch on a male's throat is called his gorget, pronounced gor-juht, a Middle English term for a piece of Medieval armor that protected the throat. The word gorget itself is derived from an old French word for throat.

As stunning as the throat of a male Anna's Hummingbird can be under the right conditions, it can also look black or coppery brown, depending upon the lighting. This is because the glittering reddish pink color is produced by what is called structural coloration, rather than pigment.

As light strikes a gorget feather, some of the light is absorbed and some is reflected back out. At the right angle, the reflected light can be iridescent pink, but if the sunlight is at a flat angle, the feathers may appear black. It's all determined by the angle of sunlight and location of the viewer.

Anna's Hummingbirds are present in the Tehachapi Mountains year-round. They may move downslope on cold winter days to forage where it is warmer, but they don't migrate much. They depend on nectar, but they also eat lots of tiny insects and spiders, which provide them with protein. Hummingbirds cannot live on nectar alone.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for hummingbird is muutanapizshi, pronounced moo-tana-PIZSH-eh, which 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: editorial@tehachapinews.com.