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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 1


January 2005
A female Anna's hummingbird

Was that a hummingbird? Yep!

by Kyle Spinks, Natural Resources Technician, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District

Our winters are mild enough that there’s food for resident, year-round populations of Anna’s Hummingbirds. During the winter they are voracious spider eaters, but also dine on gnats and other small insects, as well as drinking nectar from the few winter blooms that they may find (not to mention drinking from the hummingbird feeders that may be in our yards).

Anna’s Hummingbirds are one of the largest of our local hummingbirds, but still only reach 4” from tip of the bill to the end of the tail. Both males and females are green on the back, whitish-green on the breast, and have gray primary feathers (the primaries are the outermost and typically longest feathers on the wing). An adult female has a small, red patch on the throat. The adult male has a brilliant red crown and throat, which, due to the iridescence, looks black when not refracting the light.

During the mating season, the adult male courts a female with a steep, J-shaped flying pattern, and he gives a loud squeak at the bottom end of the “J.” (Several hummingbird species can be identified by their display flight patterns). Their nests are about the size of a walnut and are constructed of small bits of plants and lichens wound together with spider webs. Their eggs, usually two per clutch, are white and about the size of a jellybean.

Other Hummingbird Facts


A male Anna's showing the red crest and throat

The other common hummer you might see around Cedar Mill during the summer months is the Rufous Hummingbird. The Rufous Hummingbird has extensive orange coloration, distinguishing it from almost all other hummers. Costa’s Hummingbirds and Calliope Hummingbirds are rare in our area, migrating through annually, but not known to breed or overwinter here. The Costa’s Hummingbird has a slightly downward-curved bill. The female looks very similar to a female Anna’s hummer, but the male has a dark purple throat and crown. The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest of the bunch, averaging only 3.25 inches long. It has a white-streaked rosy throat patch that spreads toward the shoulders, and its back is green.

A widely recognized association exists between shrubs in the Ribes genus and fledging times for hummingbirds. Locally, Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) blooms about the time the young hummers hatch, providing an excellent food source just when the mother hummingbird needs it most. In return, the currant gets pollinated as the mother darts from blossom to blossom.

Many people ask if it’s okay to feed hummingbirds through the winter. Among the concerns is that this artificial food source may change the behavior of the hummers, or that they may stop migrating. Hummingbirds rely on numerous food sources, so providing extra isn’t going to change their behavior to any great degree. And just having a good food source won’t stop them from migrating. However, as with other bird feeders, remember to keep your hummingbird feeder clean and fresh, and make sure it’s not placed where predators can easily grab a hungry hummer.

More information about hummingbirds, along with an assortment of feeders, can be found at the Portland Audubon Society’s shop on NW Cornell in Forest Park



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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
P.O. Box 91177
Portland, OR 97291-0177

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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