Sunday, March 1, 2015

Portland Hummingbirds

One of the intriguing things I've noticed since moving to Portland (from Ontario, Canada where winter can be very harsh), is the number of Hummingbirds I see in this area. I see them year round and on a regular basis. Sure, seeing them in the Summer is not such a surprise, but in the middle of Winter? and what the hell are they eating? Hummingbirds live on flower nectar and sucrose. I do see people putting out feeders, but there are only so many feeders around, and there doesn't appear to be a ton of flowers available when it gets colder during October thru January. 

Male Anna's Hummingbird -
(taken on March 1st at NW 17th Ave. and Everett St.
Portland, Oregon.)
So I did a bit of investigation and found some interesting things:  There are several species of Hummingbirds in the Pacific Northwest region, close to ten actually. Of those, the Anna's Humming bird (shown above) is one of the non-migratory Hummingbirds that live here and stay here year-round. They didn't really inhabit the Pacific Northwest region until 1940 or so. Before that they were primarily in California, where flowers were more abundant year round. So what changed? Why did they move north? In the 1870's the Blue Gum Eucalyptus tree was introduced in California, where it flourished. A native of Australia, It was brought in primarily to provide shade, lumber and wood for railroad ties. with its ability grow quickly, especially in hot, dry climates, areas that were once treeless plains - now were occupied by flowering shrubs. These Eucalyptus trees eventually moved northward through the San Francisco Bay area and eventually up into Southern Oregon. With the Blue Gum Eucalyptus' hardiness and ability to flower during winter months, the Hummingbirds simply followed the nectar.  

Hummingbirds in the Oregon and Portland area do however rely heavily on the many feeders that people put out in their yards etc., and have adapted to living on that as well as the mix of flower nectar from many shrubs and plants that have been introduced to the Pacific Northwest over the last century, plants that flower during winter months like: Winter Jasmine, Viburnum, SweetBox, Witch Hazel, Oregon Grape and Heather. Because of this, it has provided an environment that has allowed the Anna's Hummingbird, and many others, to populate the area and continue to live comfortably in the Pacific Northwest.


  1. Interesting! Good shot there, it's quite hard to catch a humming bird still!

  2. Thanks Tara. Yes, this guy's really cute and makes a strange metallic sounding call!