California Hummingbirds

Male Anna’s Hummingbird’s Spectacular Pink Gorget Feathers

Female Anna’s Hummingbird on Nest

Two Tiny Eggs in Nest

Anna’s Hummingbird at Grevillea Flower

Costa’s Hummingbird’s Purple Gorget

On a recent trip to California we got lucky and saw some spectacular hummingbirds.  They are a favorite!  Hummingbirds are incredibly beautiful and full of personality.  In flight their wings beat at least 50 times per second, which sounds like a buzz when they zoom past you in the garden.  Forward flight speed reaches 30 mph, and dive speeds reach 60 mph! 

Hummingbird nests are constructed of plant material bound together with sticky, stretchy spider webs.  Lichens are attached to the outside of the nest for camouflage.  Mother hummingbirds lay two eggs.  Although each egg is less than ½ inch long and smaller than a jellybean, they represent as much as 10% of her body weight.  These little flying jewels are precious!  More fun facts about hummingbirds are at:  https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106   A live cam on Bella’s current active hummingbird nest is at: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/bella-hummingbird-nest

Amazing Hummingbirds

Female Allen's Hummingbird

Female Allen’s Hummingbird

Male Allen's Hummingbird

Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Female Anna's Hummingbird

Female Anna’s Hummingbird

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Anna’s Hummingbird

Wings of Anna's Hummingbird

Wings of Anna’s Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are known as “flying jewels” because of their beautiful iridescent feathers.  They are the only birds that can rotate their wings in a circle.  They can hover and fly forward, backward, and even briefly upside down.  They are among the smallest of birds, and only live in the Americas.  Their tiny nests are 1.5 inches in diameter – just big enough for two jellybean-size eggs.  Spider silk is used to stick lichens onto the nest for camouflage.  Hummingbirds eat small insects and drink nectar from up to 1,000 flowers per day.  They are a favorite of mine – what sweet little birds!  More fun info is at:  http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/humm/funfacts.html

Our Favorite California Quail Photo

California Quail on Banksia Flower

We saw this California Quail at the University of California – Santa Cruz Arboretum.  The bird is sitting on a Banksia bush in full bloom.  Banksia flowers smell just like buttered popcorn!  Because quail are so cute, they have been featured in many Disney movies (including Bambi). Although the topknot looks like a single feather, it is actually six feathers clustered together as one.

Rare Blue-Flowering Bromeliad

Puya berteroniana Flower Stalk

Close-Up of Puya berteroniana Flower Cluster

Blue Puya berteroniana Flower

Thrasher Drinking Flower Nectar

If you are lucky, you will see an unusual bromeliad plant in bloom when you visit the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC) Arboretum.  Puya berteroniana is native to Chile, and is related to the pineapple. The plant produces a spectacular 10-foot-tall flower stalk in spring.  The blooms are one of the few in the world that are truly blue!  Birds love to drink the flower’s nectar.

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