Anna’s Hummingbirds Are Expanding Their Range With Human Help

Once restricted to southern California and the Baja Peninsula, the species' success is tied to an increase in flowery landscaping and nectar feeders.

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This is BirdNote.

With its green metallic sheen, the Anna’s Hummingbird is a delight to see, flitting around a back yard or garden, visiting all the colorful, nectar-rich flowers. And maybe stopping by a hummingbird feeder.

For many birds, the rise of suburbia has not been a good thing. Human habitation and roads can fragment — and often degrade — natural habitat.

But a few birds, like the Anna’s Hummingbird, are thriving alongside us.

This little hummingbird was once found only in southern California and the Baja Peninsula. But ornithologists have documented the expansion of its range since the 1930s. Today, you’ll find it in locales as far north as British Columbia and as far east as Texas.

And that’s largely because of us. One study found that Anna’s Hummingbirds tend to colonize new locations, even cold ones, based on housing density — that is, how many people live there — and the availability of flowery landscaping and nectar feeders.

It’s an uncomfortable truth, isn’t it? Where we humans inadvertently take habitat from some birds, we also give habitat to others… like the Anna’s.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.



Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.

Wing hum, LNS# 6121, recorded by David G. Allen. Chirping, LNS# 111006, recorded by T. G. Sander.

Written by: Monica Gokey

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie

Editor: Ashley Ahearn

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill

Narrator: Michael Stein

BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2019 BirdNote   November 2019