Saturday, August 29, 2015

Anna's Hummingbirds near Julian

The identification of female and immature hummingbirds is tough. In the East one only expects Ruby-throated Hummingbird. But in the West there are 7 species and another dozen from Arizona to Texas.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird. Julian, California. July 3, 2015. Greg Gillson.
Most female and immature hummingbirds are a similar green. The color, design, and shape of the tail feathers when fanned are key for separation. And the shape of the primary wing feathers when perched are important for ID purposes, too. On such tiny, energetic speedsters, these field marks are not easily observed with only binoculars. Thanks to high speed digital photography in the past dozen years or so, many rare and out-of-range hummingbirds are being identified now that would not have been identified in the past.

For my own photos, too, I am able to gain more confidence identifying these oh-so-similar hummingbirds that might have gone unidentified in the past--even if my efforts so far have only verified that the birds I am photographing are the expected ones.