As the second post in our migrating hummingbird series I set my attention on Costa’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds. Only a portion of the Allen’s Hummingbird population actually migrates out of California during the winter. Although not totally gone the Costa’s is very uncommon in winter and can be difficult to find. At this time both of these species are very prevalent in the proper habitat.
Costa’s Hummingbird has made the most dramatic changes in occurrence recently. The foothills and canyons along our coastal range have had large numbers of these hummingbirds passing through over the last few weeks with many staying to breed. Costa’s Hummingbird is a dry chaparral species that is mostly found here in Orange County in the lower areas of our Santa Ana Mountains. I took the photos of the bird on the left in Silverado Canyon. At creek crossings along the road the number of Costa’s Hummingbirds coming down to drink and bathe have been really impressive. I had also taken photos of Costa’s Hummingbird at Whiting Ranch but the frequency was not near as high.
In writing this post I took multiple trips into Silverado Canyon and had also run into both Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds (photo). These were the topics of the previous hummingbird post. I thought it was particularly interesting to have seen both a male (photo) and female Calliope Hummingbird (photo) drinking water at a stream crossing along the road.
While in Silverado Canyon I also saw many Allen’s Hummingbirds. This hummingbird is much more consistent in frequency here in Orange County than the Costa’s Hummingbird is. Only one race of the Allen?s Hummingbird actually migrates south in the winter. A large portion of the population remains resident here year round. It is fairly widespread in occurrence throughout the county and along most of the California coastline during the spring and summer months. The green on the back of the Allen’s Hummingbirds readily distinguish it from the Rufous Hummingbirds. Immatures and females are very difficult to distinguish in the field.
Clearly, hummingbird migration has begun here in Southern California. We went to Sea Terrace Community Park this past weekend to look for reported Rufous and Calliope Hummingbird. I have never been to this small park right along Pacific Coast Highway and it was very interesting. As its name implies it is a small community park that is along the Coast Highway between Dana Point and Laguna Beach.
The majority of the park is just an open grassy area with small islands of well-manicured vegetation. Although not overly busy there were a few people flying remote gliders or planes and walking the paths. It seemed were the only one looking at the hummingbirds. The park is virtually on Pacific Coast Highway and just a stone throw from the beach.
The number of hummingbirds was quite a surprise. In most of the vegetated areas Flowering Pride of Madera was prevalent. The hummingbirds were abundant feeding on the blossoms. We see a fair number of Allen’s Hummingbird along the coast. It was particularly interesting to see such a good mix of Rufous Hummingbird here also.
Six species of hummingbirds can be found here in Orange County (Anna’s, Costa’s, Rufous, Black-chinned, Allen’s and rarely Calliope). People mostly see Calliope Hummingbird in the Santa Ana Mountains. It also showed up this year along the coastal lowlands in both Sea Terrace Community Park and Huntington Central Park. It was a real treat to see this hummingbird and especially unusual right on our coastline. The abundant Anna’s, Allen’s and Rufous Hummingbirds were also a treat that made for a quick morning of four of the six species of hummingbirds found in the county. Note: for those of you who might call me on this count… yes, in addition Broad-billed Hummingbird has rare, scattered records within the county.