I have always loved the Anna's hummingbirds that frequented my childhood backyard. When I moved home during the pandemic, I found my fascination to be invigorated by the familiar buzz of wings and high pitched chirps. I spent the following year and a half documenting the couple of hummingbirds whose homes overlapped with mine. As a result of this ongoing project, I continue to observe new behaviors and learn more about these curious little birds.
A female Anna's hummingbird gathers soft materials to build her nest. I watched this female laboriously gather mouthful after mouthful of these fluffy seeds and zip back to her nest – going back and forth starting early in the morning until dusk.
A couple other female Anna's hummingbirds also frequented this spot. Over the course of the next month, I captured each one complete their ritual of gathering their nesting materials. Often they would come one after another, taking turns, all within the span of minutes.
All that nesting material is stuck together with spiderwebs. I had heard about the innovative hummingbirds using cobwebs as glue for their nests, but had never seen it in person. Early in March, I finally had the opportunity capture this female in the rafters of our patio.
The hard work pays off! I spied the nest tucked away under the leaves of a Loquat tree on the banks of a dry creek. In order to not disturb the nest, I took this photo from across the creek with hefty zoom and some serious cropping.
In between her time sitting on the eggs, this soon-to-be mother of two feasted on the nearby flowering quince, all while keeping a close eye on her nest.
After two to three weeks on the eggs, the fledgeling hummingbirds finally hatch! The nest becomes quickly becomes cramped as the fledgelings grow quickly during the first weeks. Soon they are able to hop between nearby branches and learn to fly short distances on their own. However, they still need to be fed and seems to always be hungry for more.
The fledgelings grow more independent with each day and I start to see them fly further and further from their next. This fledgeling visited the blossoming cherry trees in a neighbors yard. While the two fledgelings' diet is still supplemented their mother, they will soon be strong enough fliers to be capable of gathering all their own nectar.
Fast forward to mid-summer, and activity is in full swing. The Autumn Sage is a fan favorite, a frequent source of tussle among all the hummingbirds in the area. This particular male maintains his perch high in the Sycamore above keeps a watchful eye over his territory.
The Lily of the Nile seems to be the favorite amongst some of the females in the area when in full bloom in July. There was some scuffles between visitors, the bird in the left two images kept her visits short, she was often chased away as shown in the far right.
This is an ongoing project, the above is one of my most recent images. Hummingbird interaction has been a challenge to capture and a work in progress. This display of aggression from one to another was so exciting to get on camera. This project has been a fascinating experience, and led to so much more appreciation of the complexity of these little birds. By observing microcosm of activity and interaction in just my backyard, I've learned to look closely and watch patiently. I hope to take this lens and point of view beyond the backyard.