Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Anna's Hummingbirds Winter in the North

How do they survive the cold?

Most hummingbirds retreat south in autumn, but Anna's Hummingbirds are found in northern latitudes throughout the year. Since 1960, they've moved their year-round limit north from California to British Columbia. They're taking advantage of flowering plants and shrubs, as well as hummingbird feeders. But how do they survive the northern cold? They suspend their high rate of metabolism by entering a state of torpor – a sort of nightly hibernation, where heart rate and body temperature are reduced to a bare minimum. Many hummingbirds, including those in the high Andes, rely on the same strategy.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote® 

Anna’s Hummingbirds Winter in the North

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
[Male Anna’s Hummingbird singing]
On a chilly February morning near Seattle, with the temperature hovering below 40 degrees, a bird is singing lustily. [Male Anna’s Hummingbird singing] And not just any bird. It’s a hummingbird! A male Anna’s Hummingbird, whose throat and crown flash iridescent rose. [Male Anna’s Hummingbird singing]
But what is a hummingbird doing this far north in winter?
While most hummingbirds retreat south in autumn, Anna’s are found in northern latitudes throughout the year. Since 1960, they’ve moved their year-round limit north from California to British Columbia. They’re taking advantage of widely planted flowering plants and shrubs as well as hummingbird feeders.
But how do they survive the northern cold? They seem unlikely pioneers, since hummingbirds have no down feathers for insulation and a metabolism that runs so high that they would exhaust their energy reserves on a cold night.
[Cold winter wind ambient]
The hummingbird’s solution? Suspend that high rate of metabolism by entering a state of torpor – a sort of nightly hibernation, where heart rate and body temperature are reduced to a bare minimum. Many hummingbirds, such as those residing in the high Andes, rely on the same strategy.
Yes, Anna’s Hummingbird has come north to stay. [Wing whir of male Anna’s Hummingbird] And its jewel-like presence at the nectar feeder adds sparkle to any winter day.
[Wing whir of male Anna’s Hummingbird]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
                                                                               ###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Male Anna’s Hummingbird song recorded by T.G. Sander, Macaulay Library #111006.
Winter ambient C Peterson and Kessler Productions
Wing whir recorded by David Allen #6121
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org    February 2017   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#                 ANHU-03-2013-02-13

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More