I have several friends and relatives that live in the Vancouver, BC, Canada area who I regularly correspond with using Facebook and Emails. I’ve visited the area several times and am always amazed at the abundance of beautiful gardens and the wonderful plants that grow in that area that we can’t successfully grow here in Zones 3-4. If you’ve never visited Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, you should really add it to your bucket list.
But recently my cousin sent me a picture of a hummingbird at her hummingbird feeder and my first thought was “Are you lost little guy? You’d better get a move on and get south.” Turns out this hummingbird, the Anna’s Hummingbird, is a year-round Vancouver resident, and people will go to great lengths to make sure those feeders are thawed during the winter and filled at all times for this special guest.
The Anna’s Hummingbird, which is named after Anna Massena, a 19th century French duchess, has the permanent designation of being Vancouver’s official city bird. They’ve been described as “a tough, pugnacious, beautiful, smart, sex-crazed, sugar junkies.” They are always in kind of a manic state having colossal amounts of energy that needs to be fueled. They could literally starve to death within a few hours without enough fuel which, is why they defend their food sources so vigorously.
And their memories are very acute. As a regular visitor to your nectar feeder, they can remember, year to year, where the feeder is and how long it takes between fillings. This amazing memory also allows them to remember where and when the flowers they prefer will bloom and rebloom during the growing season.
Originally these birds resided in southern California, but 50 years ago, they began migrating north in what scientist call a “remarkable range expansion for a North American species.” They now breed from Arizona to southern British Columbia and have even been seen in Alaska.
My cousins are heavily committed to providing them with fuel over the winter. They place a light source like a light bulb and even a roll of Christmas lights beneath the feeder, and that gives off just enough heat to keep the nectar from freezing. And all day, every day, the Anna’s Hummingbird continues to visit the feeder. What a show that must be to see inches of snow on the ground, while these beautiful hummingbirds hang out and fuel up at your feeder.
For more information on the Anna’s Hummingbird, just Google “Anna’s Hummingbird” and you will find lots of sites with great information on this lovely and interesting bird.