[Tweeters] Anna's Odd Behavior - Any Ideas??

Brett Wolfe m_lincolnii at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 1 12:08:53 PST 2009

Hi Frank.

Interesting observartions for which I have no answers. Total SWAG (Silly Wild A## Guess), but maybe she is having trouble maintaining her body temperature during the day? It's been nice out, but it's also been wet. I would assume she sleeps at night when it is colder and food is less available, but maybe she is trying to just make it to the evening. It does sound like very odd behavior. I have watched Anna's Hummingbirds for years and never seen that. Anyone else?

Brett A. Wolfe
Seattle, WA
m_lincolnii at yahoo.com

--- On Sun, 3/1/09, FRANK BROWN <franklauriebrown at msn.com> wrote:
From: FRANK BROWN <franklauriebrown at msn.com>
Subject: [Tweeters] Anna's Odd Behavior - Any Ideas??
To: "tweeters" <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Date: Sunday, March 1, 2009, 11:23 AM

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The female Anna's that did not seem able to sit yesterday (see below) is still alive and still hovering.  In fact, she is fiesty, chasing other Anna's and juncos and chickadees.  She still seems unable or uninterested in sitting, when she touches down at a twig, she keeps her wings in hovering mode and she doesn't seem to grasp the twig - just touch on it, sort of balance on it with her belly and then off she goes again.  My wife thinks something is wrong with her feet - that she cannot grasp with them.  But I did see her this morning wrap her feet around a twig briefly.  One thing I notice today is that she chips constantly, and she seems spunky and "healthy".  Perhaps this is just some territorial extra nervousness because she has just made her nest and maybe she is about to lay her eggs?  She remains very round, like a golfball.  


Has anyone else seen an Anna's female hover and stay in the air for more than a day?  She continues to eat a lot and does not rest at the feeder, she feeds hovering.


Frank Brown

Seattle (North Park neighborhood)

From: franklauriebrown at msn.com
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: Anna's Odd Behavior
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 18:40:21 -0800

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#yiv1321355433 .ExternalClass body.EC_hmmessage

Hello Tweeters,
I have a couple pair of resident Anna's.  Today, one of the females exhibited odd and perhaps fatal behavior.  She hovered all day, never shutting down her wings for more than a moment.  She would hover and not perch when feeding,  Then, flying to her roosting perch in a shrub, she would try to sit on the branch but seemed to be unable to balance, she would start to perch firmly, then rock backwards and hover-perch, catch herself and try again, all the while hovering her wings.  I felt so sorry for her - she must have run her body at full speed all day.  She looks very round - like a golf ball.  Could she be full of eggs which makes her lose her balance and grip on the branch?  Sometimes it looked like her feet were just too weak to hold the branch.  She would fly corkscrew fashion up through the shrub after failing to get a grip, and buzz around and around, and then try again.  She would try smaller twigs and larger twigs.  She would to sit
facing one direction and then the other.  This has gone all day.  I figure if she cannot sit and grip a branch overnight she has no chance of surviving the evening.
The only moments that she stopped hovering were very brief seconds when she would claw at her throat and neck with a foot, or with her bill.  She would do that for a second and then the whole process of hovering would begin again. 
Has anyone else seen such behavior?  I've had Anna's nest in my small north Seattle yard for the past six or seven years and I have not seen this before.  I am afraid that there could be some disease affecting hummingbird balance or that the legs are paralyzed by some toxin or disease.  I feel so sorry for the poor bird, trying to sit all day long, but always falling backwards, not hanging on to her twig, and having to hover for hours on end.  She does sit on the twig for most of this time, or at least touch it, but she does not shut down her wings or fold them.  SHe needs to keep fanning her wings to keep her balance and to stay close to the twig.
The only thing I can find in my bird book library is that some humingbird species females make a species-specific wing humm, to attract males when they want to mate, by sitting on branches and fanning their wings for extended periods of time.  From what I read, humans don't always hear these sounds.  Anna's are not a species known to do this.  Also, my males never came flying over to investigate the female all day.  So, if she was droning out a call to the males, it was not working. 
Any ideas?  Have I just had a sick hummer today that will perish during the night?
Frank Brown
Seattle (North Park neighborhood)

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