You've probably seen this hummingbird before...

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

hummingbird study painted by john audobon

Did you know that Anna’s Hummingbird was named after Princess Anna De Belle Massena? The French surgeon and naturalist René Primevère Lesson thought these birds were extremely beautiful due to the recognizable rosy-pink color on the male’s heads and throats. They also have metallic green feathers along their backs. The females have metallic green feathers on top and gray feathers with red spotting underneath. These vibrant color patterns make hummingbirds the perfect subject for painting. Martin Johnson Heade often painted them alongside tropical flowers including Orchids and Hummingbird (1875-83). John James Audobon who was an ornithologist, produced around 435 watercolor paintings of various birds and published them in the book: The Birds of America. In plate 425, he painted Anna’s Hummingbird but refers to it as the Columbian Hummingbird because he had received the bird specimen from a place near the Columbian river. Anna’s Hummingbird is the most common hummingbird on the west coast with their population spanning from Baja California all the way up to Vancouver Canada. In San Diego they usually live in the coastal lowlands near nectar-bearing plants such as eucalyptus or honeysuckle. However, they also thrive in urban areas year-round due to an abundance of feeders. This abundance has sparked an increase in their population from the 1930’s, therefore creating a low conservation concern.

Artworks mentioned:


calypte anna or anna's hummingbird pictured with orchids painted by Martin Johnson Heade
Martin Johnson Heade, Orchids and Hummingbird

written by Kaitlan Norman

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