Sunday, February 14, 2010

Anna's Song

While walking on the Dreamy Draw trail in Phoenix, I found this male Anna's Hummingbird. He had one prefered perch that was low enough to allowed me to position myself where I could get some photos without shooting up into the top of a tree. On top of that he was tolerant of my presence. I visited him every day I was there. He would use this perch and another at the top of a nearby Palo Verde tree. Often I observed him foraging in nearby shrubs or rocketing off to chase a nearby neighbor hummingbird that had ventured into his turf. I just waited until he returned to this spot.

He would often break into song while perched in front of me. The song, a series of rather harsh chirping buzzes and whistles, was not very sonorous to my ear, but he more than made up for any vocal shortcomings with a dazzling visual display.

As he sang, he would stretch forward from his perch, flare the feathers on his head, and wag his head back and forth to provide all points of view a chance to see the show. And what a show it was.

I had a front row seat and was enamored with the range of colors produced by the light reflected* from the feathers on his head.

Most of the time his gorget would appear black with maybe a few small points showing some ruby red flashes.

A slight turn of his head may reveal a wider range of flashing color - metalic green, bronze, rose red, ruby, or violet.

But then, if I was lined up right with the sun, he would turn and and flash me the full color and it was dazzling.

A full shot of frozen hot light would fire from his face.

Then he would turn away to direct his fire at something else and it was gone.

By the time we left I was grateful for the time he allowed me to share with him and I appreciated his tolerance for my intrusion into his world. As I left and headed down the trail for the last time, he rocketed from his perch and buzzed by within inches of my face, no doubt heading off for another showdown with his neighbor down the hill.

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