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Hummingbirds in San Diego

The tiniest birds could be observed in South California almost year-round

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Ten species of hummingbirds have been seen in San Diego County; most of them are just migrating through the area. However, three Sand Diego resident hummingbird species can be spotted in the area on a regular basis. Anna's, Black-chinned, and Costa’s hummingbird are commonly seen in San Diego parks, gardens, and nature preserves as well as in the countryside.

Anna’s hummingbird season (December-August)

Boasting iridescent emerald feathers and magenta throat, Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) is one of the most beautiful species in the family. It's only males that look so flashy. Females are less recognizable. Due to grey and green feathers, they can be confused with females of other species. Tiny birds have a wingspan of 4.7 inches (12 cm) and weigh just about 5 grams.

Anna's hummingbirds breed all over San Diego County, except in the deserts. They can be spotted in the coastal lowland and lower foothills, in native sage scrub, chaparral, riparian or oak woods. They can be also observed at San Diego Zoo and Cabrillo National Monument. A large number of Anna's hummingbirds migrate from California in the summer to spend fall in Arizona. They return in the winter to start nesting in December.

Black-chinned hummingbird season (late April-July)

The black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) has a metallic green head and gray-white feathers below. Males have a black throat, while females have a pale gray throat. These birds are summer residents, nesting in San Diego County from late April through July. They prefer riparian and oak woodland as their habitat. The largest number of black-chinned hummingbirds is concentrated in the northwest corner of San Diego County, especially along the Santa Margarita River, north of Fallbrook.

Costa’s hummingbird season (December-early July)

Costa’s Hummingbirds are common in the Southwest. Males have a bright purple crown and throat, while females are modestly grayish-green. Costa's arrive at the Anza–Borrego Desert in December and are especially abundant in spring. They collect nectar from chuparosa, ocotillo, desert lavender, and desert thorn. The nesting season for Costa's in the desert lasts from February into April. They leave the desert in early summer.

Costa's hummingbirds are also widespread along the coast, on the foothills of the mountains, and in chaparral forests. They can be found in Spring Valley, near Tule Springs, and the Chula Vista Nature Center. The birds arrive in April and remain along the Southern Californian coast until early July.

How to attracts hummingbirds

Hummingbirds rely mainly on nectar in their diet, visiting up to 2000 plants per day. They prefer tubular flowers of bright colors, so planting them in your garden will increase chances to attract these tiny birds. Putting out a hummingbird feeder is also a good idea. Mix 1/4 cup of sugar with a cup of hot water to fill the feeder and don't forget to change the solution every few days.

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen