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Hummingbird in Arizona


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Hi folks.  I took this photo of a hummingbird in Gilbert, AZ on May first of this year.  It was sometimes sitting on a branch and sometimes flying out (to catch a bug?).  Is this an Anna's Hummingbird?

On this topic, what's the best way to identify hummingbirds?  Is it the throat color?

DSC_2531.jpg

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Yes, this is an Anna’s Hummingbird. Firstly the shiny colored throat feathers extend up onto the forehead, which narrows it down to just two species, Anna’s and Costa’s; the color of the feathers is magenta pink, ruling out Costa’s which would have deep purple feathers and leaving you only with Anna’s. Costa’s would also be more pale on the belly, and the gorget feathers on the sides of the throat would extend out further. 

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14 hours ago, GracesWarbler said:

On this topic, what's the best way to identify hummingbirds?  Is it the throat color?

Throat colour might not be that useful when it comes to female hummingbirds. I'm not sure about this, but I THINK tail feathers are key to separating some of the look-a-like hummingbirds. @DLecy might be able to help you out and tell you what to look for.

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1 hour ago, Colton V said:

Yes, this is an Anna’s Hummingbird. Firstly the shiny colored throat feathers extend up onto the forehead, which narrows it down to just two species, Anna’s and Costa’s; the color of the feathers is magenta pink, ruling out Costa’s which would have deep purple feathers and leaving you only with Anna’s. Costa’s would also be more pale on the belly, and the gorget feathers on the sides of the throat would extend out further. 

 

1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

Throat colour might not be that useful when it comes to female hummingbirds. I'm not sure about this, but I THINK tail feathers are key to separating some of the look-a-like hummingbirds. @DLecy might be able to help you out and tell you what to look for.

Thanks, both of you.  I'm a little red/green colorblind, which makes subtle red-ish color variations difficult for me to distinguish.  It's easier to distinguish birds with distinct body shapes or obvious colors.

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Yeah, as @lonestranger pointed out, gorget (throat) color is only useful for adult male hummingbirds, and even then, can vary considerably depending on lighting. For example, Anna's Hummingbirds seen in poor light appear to have a dark throat, causing many observers to ID them erroneously as Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds are a challenging but rewarding group of birds to observe and identify. There is not fool-proof method for identification, other than spending lots of time in the field, paying close attention, and knowing that not everything will be identified to species level. At times, walking away from a situation and leaving the ID at "hummingbird sp." is a perfectly acceptable and prudent thing to do. If you can, get a good camera that will help with some of the more technical, and at times necessary, identification aspects such a getting a picture of the folded wing on a perched bird, or a tail spread photo of a hovering bird.

The best thing to do would be to study birds at your feeders, or some local ones, and get most familiar with the expected species, that way you will notice when something feels "off" about a new bird.

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