Anna’s Hummingbird – Male Dive Display

by Larry on March 6, 2010

Anna’s Hummingbird Female Being Courted photos by Larry Jordan

Spring is in the air in Northern California even though it is still a couple of weeks away.  Anna’s Hummingbirds, as I stated in an earlier post, nest early and thus avoid competition from other hummingbird species.  They may begin nesting in November or December but these two appear to be ready now.

As I walk into the backyard I here the distinctive “chirp” of the male Anna’s Hummingbird performing his dive display.  The sound is actually created by the male spreading his tail at a speed of up to 60 miles per hour.  Watch this 1 minute video.

The object of the dive display may be a female prior to mating or it may be a territorial display used to chase out another hummingbird.

When I heard the “chirp” Brigitte said “the hummingbird is right here.”  I slowly walked to where she was gardening and followed her pointing finger to this female, perched nearly on the ground, just a few feet from where she was working.

I ran to the back porch to get the camera and came back.  The bird was still there.  She was not moving other than to look up occasionally (presumably at the male).  I slowly closed in for a better photo, hoping not to alarm her.  She was not interested in me.  Then I understood why.

The male Anna’s Hummingbird flew down and performed a “shuttle display” about a foot away from the female and directly in front of her.  On sunny days like today, the male’s dive display is oriented so that the sun is reflected from his crown and gorget.  Impressive isn’t it?

She watched as he shuttled back and forth on the other side of a temporary nylon netting, displaying his glistening gorget in the sun.  Then he came closer to her, still displaying…

She watched him closely…

And then he chased her, as she most likely led him to her nest that she has been building for several days now, to mate.  Ah, springtime in the backyard, exquisite.

To see more about Anna’s Hummingbird courtship and nesting behavior you can watch this 3 minute video from

For more great bird photos, check out Bird Photography Weekly and the Friday Ark.

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