City Cast

Anna's Hummingbirds Stick Around Portland in Winter

Rachel Monahan
Posted on October 5
Anna's hummingbird hovering near a bright red spiky flower

The Anna's hummingbird stays in Portland over the winter. (Kathleen Reeder Wildlife Photography / Getty Images)

The Anna’s hummingbird is one bird species that doesn’t leave the Pacific Northwest for winter. Intriguingly, that’s a relatively recent phenomenon, attributable in part to the northward migration of plants that sustain it. But it also may be helped by a steady diet supplied by urban bird lovers: the nectar of hummingbird feeders.

The Anna’s habitat extends from Alaska to Mexico at this point.

It’s a medium-size hummingbird with a gray and green hue. The males have a distinctive pink-red patch in a spot called a gorget under their beaks; the bright color also extends over their heads.

Here are some other notable facts:

  • The oldest Anna’s ever recorded was over 8 years old.
  • Don’t call a group of Anna’s hummingbirds a flock. “Choose between a bouquet, a glittering, a hover, a shimmer, or a tune of hummingbirds,” says All About Birds.
  • Hummingbirds are a Western Hemisphere phenomenon that Christopher Columbus and subsequent Europeans explorers thought might be a cross between a bird and an insect — "flybirds.”
  • The Anna’s engage in courtship of dramatic dives. The males climb 130 feet and dive down before their subject of interest, which occasionally includes humans.
  • To eat, they hover in front of flowers and unfurl their long tongues to feast on nectar. They’re also partial to a protein provided by insects.

The males are the most vocal of American hummingbirds. Their song includes buzzes and chirps and is the most complex for a hummingbird. See what you think. Birders often find or identify the bird by its song.

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