A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)


Present throughout the county in habitat where perches and ample nectar are available. Our only common hummingbird and the only hummingbird that normally spends the winter months in Sonoma County. Seen as frequently in suburban gardens as in the lightly wooded areas it prefers elsewhere. Encountered both inland and near the coast. Tends to move to higher elevations in the summer. Attracted to bright flowers and to feeders. Breeds in much of the county, but particularly the southern and eastern sections. Introduction of exotic garden flowers has allowed Anna's Hummingbird to extend its breeding range. Highly territorial. May be seen defending territory against intruders or perched high, scanning for threats.

Pale grey and green underparts. Greenish back. Males have a bright magenta crown and throat, although the brightly colored parts may appear nearly black in certain lights, as in the photo above. Females mostly green, less brightly and more patchily marked with red at the throat. Bill comparatively short for a hummingbird.

Often heard before it's seen. Call note sounds like chit! Commonly makes a series of squeaky, grating notes. Also does a courtship dive that ends with a loud popping noise at the bottom--a sound that seems much too loud to come from a creature so small.

Unlikely to be confused with any other bird. Hummingbirds of the genus Selasphorus--Allen's Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) and, less commonly, Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)--that pass through Sonoma County in the spring and autumn are colored quite differently, with extensive rufous parts and bright orange at the throat rather than magenta (photo below).

Further reading:

Bolander and Parmeter, Birds of Sonoma County California, rev. ed., 2000, p. 76

Brinkley, National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America, 2007, p. 297

Burridge, ed., Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas, 1995, p. 88

Dunn and Alderfer, eds., National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 5th ed., 2006, p. 276

Dunn and Alderfer, eds., National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th ed., 2011, p. 306

Dunne, Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion, 2006, pp. 361-362

Ehrlich, Dobkin, and Wheye, The Birder's Handbook, paperback edition, 1988, p. 330

Fix and Bezener, Birds of Northern California, 2000, p. 221

Kaufman, Field Guide to Birds of North America, 2000, p. 220

Kaufman, Advanced Birding, 1990, pp. 161, 162-166, 170

Kaufman, Field Guide to Advanced Birding, 2011, pp. 321, 323, 324, 327, 328, 330-336

Parmeter and Wight, Birds of Sonoma County California, Update (2000-2010), 2012, p. 45

Peterson, Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 5th ed., 2002, p. 212

Peterson, Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, 4th ed., 2010, p. 224

Peterson, Western Birds, 3rd ed., 1990,  p. 216

Sibley, Field Guide to Birds of Western North America,1st ed., 2003, p. 260

Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 1st ed., 2010, p. 427

Vuilleumier, American Museum of Natural History, Birds of North America: Western Region, 2011, p. 221

Voice: Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds--Anna's Hummingbird



© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.


For comparison: Selasphorus hummingbird, San Francisco, May 8, 2010

Anna's Hummingbird, January 2010

Anna's Hummingbird (female), Sumner Lane, Santa Rosa, July 26, 2012

Anna's Hummingbird

Calypte anna

1990-2013 Sonoma County data. Graph provided by eBird (www.ebird.org), generated June 5, 2013

EBird reported  occurrence in Sonoma County

Viewing angle makes all the difference.

Compare with the photo at the top of the page--where the head appears mostly black