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What is this light colored hummingbird?

A leucistic Anna’s hummingbird (left) eats at a feeder next to a normal-colored Anna’s  (right). Photo by Constance Tweedie, Crockett, CA.
1hummer lite constance tweedie crockett

Gary:
I have observed a new hummer at my very popular feeder here in Crockett.  I’m  on the last street looking toward Port Costa just above the area known as Elk Horn Canyon. Its unusual coloring sent me to my Audubon book and  the Internet in search of a name, but, alas, I have not been able to identify it.  It has very light coloring — an almost white underbelly and light gray wings with a rectangle of light cream on the base of its wings. There are no iridescent markings around its neck. It has integrated into the hummingbird population without incident — other that the usual star wars that go on around the feeder. I hope that you can figure what type of hummer it is.
Constance Tweedie, Crockett, California

Constance:
Looks like this hummingbird (probably an Anna’s) has an abnormal amount of melanin in its feathers to give it color. This condition is called “leucism.” According to a piece I read on the Internet from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, there appears to be several types of leucism.  This condition differs from albinism, which is a pure white bird with pink eyes and no melanin.

The San Francisco Bay Area also has both albino and leucistic raccoons and opossums.

Here’s more information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology article to help enlighten you on this subject: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/Albinism_Leucism.htm

Fascinating, don’t you think? Just when you think you have birds and their markings figured out, something like this comes along to confuse you. That’s why bird watching is so much fun. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, by the way, is the best source I know for information on bird feeding, the birds in your backyard, and anything else I can think of on native songbirds.

*** Here’s more on Cornell (and birds!):

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1189

Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Under: hummingbirds, Opossums, Raccoons | 3 Comments »

Hummingbird — and the pause that refreshes

Hummingbirds drink from flowers. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1humm dave harper oakley

Ahhhhhhh … the pause that refreshes!

Hummingbirds really know how to live the good life. Just ask them.

You can see more of Dave’s great photographs in HIS blog at:
http://davidharper-wildlife.blogspot.com/Gary

And the point is? Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1humm2 dave harper oakley

Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2012
Under: hummingbirds | 3 Comments »

Hummingbirds: Some incredible closeup photos!

Hummingbird hovering in front of feeder. Photo by Steve Gilcrest, Walnut Creek, CA
1hummer2 steve gilcrest wc

Gary:
I have a number of hummingbird feeders, but one in particular is situated outside my home office window which is 3 feet from my desk. I get some great views of these amazing little creatures.

I have had one lose it’s grip and fall over backwards, I have seen two birds on one perch feeding out of the same hole where one is upside down, and I also enjoy watching them feed out of my homemade feeder that I fashioned out of a mold I made from my hand. I was trying to desensitize them to the point where they would actually take nectar from the palm of my hand. During the summer months I will bring the feeder inside my office and they will continue to use the feeder. Attached are a couple photos of my friends.
Steve Gilcrest, Walnut Creek, California

Steve:
Hummingbirds are amazing, fearless creatures with an infinite curiosity about the world around them. When I’m watering my backyard garden, our local male Anna’s hummer will zoom down and hang in the air in front of me so I can give it a free shower from the hose. I can also hold up an eyedropper full of nectar and he’ll come feed from it. What a trip! Your photos are BEAUTIFUL! /Gary

Hummingbird resting on feeder perch. Photo by Steve Gilcrest, Walnut Creek, CA
1hummer steve gilcrest wc

Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012
Under: hummingbirds | 5 Comments »

Mama hummingbird still feeds her baby after it leaves the nest

Mama hummer feeding a teenage chick. Photo by Carol Pool, Livermore, CA
1humm carol pool livermore

Gary:
My baby hummingbirds have left the nest.  They hung out in my butterfly bushes for a couple of days.  Mama is still feeding them.
Carol Pool, Livermore, California

Carol:
After the baby hummingbirds leave the nest, they usually stick around with mama hummingbird for a week or so to give her a chance to teach them how to survive in your backyard. There’s a lot of stuff for a teenage hummingbird to learn … how to catch insects, which flowers are the best ones to obtain nectar from (although a lot of that comes with instinct), and, of course, how to use a hummingbird feeder.

Note the long bill on the young hummer that’s being fed by its mama in your photo above. It’s hard to feed a baby bird with a looong beak (kind of like fencing with foils). When baby hummers hatch, their beaks are short, like other birds. That’s to make it easier for mama to feed them (Mother Nature knows what she’s doing!). As the youngsters grow, their beaks also grow and get longer, until when they leave the nest, they have long “hummingbird” beaks so they can probe deep into flowers to get to the nectar. Neat little birds, aren’t they? /Gary

Hummer chicks ready to leave the nest. Photo by Carol Pool, Livermore, CA
1humm2 carol pool livermore

Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Under: hummingbirds | No Comments »

Cute hummers in nest: Time to enter Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest!

Baby Anna’s hummingbirds in nest. Photo by Danny & Jeanne, Pleasant Hill, CA
1hummerbabes danny & jeanne ph

Isn’t this cute?

I’m running the above photo for two reasons. It’s cuter than heck … and to remind you that it’s time to enter Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest. Just scroll down and you’ll find out more about my fun contest … or click here if you’re REALLY in a hurry: http://www.ibabuzz.com/garybogue/2012/03/12/enter-garys-wildest-bird-nest-contest

Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
Under: Bird Nest Contest, hummingbirds | No Comments »

Martinez hummingbirds feed at kitchen window feeder

Hummingbird feeding at kitchen window feeder. Photo by Alice Henderson, Martinez, CA
1hummer alice henderson mtz

Gary:
We truly love our birds in our yard, feeding them, watching them, etc. I wanted to share my hummers feeding at the window and also the crows that love the peanuts and share them with squirrels and blue jays. All of our hummers love all of our feeders, especially the one on the kitchen window. The hummer eats even when I’m at the kitchen window at the sink.
Alice Henderson, Martinez, California

Alice:
Nothing stops a hummingbird from eating when it’s hungry. When I refill my hummer feeder and bring it back out to hang up outside, the little male Anna’s hummer that lives in my backyard will sometimes meet me at the back door and drink from the feeder as I’m carrying it in my hand, all the way down to the place where I hang it back up.

That’s a neat window feeder. /Gary

Crow sampling peanuts in Martinez backyard. Photo by Alice Henderson, Martinez, CA.
1crow alice henderson mtz

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Under: Crows, hummingbirds | No Comments »

Male rufous hummingbird: Ever seen one of these little guys?

Male rufous hummingbird at feeder. Photo by Rick Arluck, Sammamish, WA
1rufous rick arluck sammamish wa

Gary:
I thought you might enjoy these pictures taken at my brother’s feeder in Sammamish, WA, in June. I sure wish I had seen these guys here!
Carol Weldin, Alamo, California

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Under: hummingbirds, rufous hummingbird | 7 Comments »

Hummingbird nest on a basketball net! Can you believe it?

Mama hummingbird and two babies in her basketball net nest. Photo by the Hartman Family, Moraga, CA
1hum bsktballnet hartman family moraga

Gary:
We thought you might be interested in seeing where a hummingbird made her nest in our backyard. She picked out the net of my son’s basketball hoop. We first noticed it a couple of weeks ago. A few days ago we noticed that there are now two baby hummingbirds living there. We thought you might like to see some pics. Best,
Bob, Bobbie, Travis & Haley Hartman, Moraga, California

Hartman Family:
Great photos! I dare anyone to slam dunk the ball with those hummers guarding THAT net!

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the hummingbirds come up with a wonderful new spot to build a nest. Those little characters are really special! /Gary

Two baby hummingbirds in a basketball net nest. Photo by the Hartman Family, Moraga, CA
1hum basktballnet2 hartman family moraga

Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Under: Bird nests, hummingbirds | No Comments »

Hummingbird takes a shower in the lawn sprinklers

Anna’s hummingbird taking a shower in lawn sprinklers. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1hum shower dave harper oakley

“Ahhhhhh … nothing like a nice cool shower in the backyard lawn sprinklers!” said the Anna’s hummingbird.

Gary:
This is an Anna’s hummingbird, which I can’t seem to shoot at our many feeders in the backyard, but to my surprise hovered to take a shower while I was working on my sprinklers.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

Dave:
I have a male Anna’s who lives in my backyard that does the same thing. When I am out hand watering in my garden, the second he spots me reaching for the hose, he zooms down and hangs right in front of me about 2-feet away, waiting for me to hit him with the fine spray. Once he’s soaked, he zips back up to his perch in the apple tree and preens for the next five minutes or so.

Hummingbirds … you gotta love them! /Gary

Posted on Friday, May 13th, 2011
Under: hummingbirds | 3 Comments »

Checkout this 2-story, double-decker hummingbird nest

Double-decker hummingbird nest. Photo by Carol Edson, Livermore, CA
1double hum nest carol edson livermore

*****LOOKING FOR THE MOTHER GOOSE STORY? SCROLL DOWN A BIT. IT’S JUST BELOW THIS LITTLE TALE. /GARY *****

Gary:
The last few years an Anna’s hummer I call Iki has nested on our back porch. She has used both vines and our clothes line for her nest location. During the winter, last year’s nest ended up hanging upside down on the line. She returned this spring, perhaps to reuse it, and decided it now needed some modification. When I looked out today, she was adding material to what is now a new nest, built on the bottom of the old one. I guess she really likes this location!
Carol Edson, Livermore, California

Carol:
WOW! This is the first 2-story, double-decker hummingbird nest I’ve ever seen! Pretty amazing. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
Under: hummingbirds, nesting | No Comments »