Description: Male's head and throat are deep rose red. Female's throat usually shows red flecks, often forming a patch of color. Underparts are grayish in both sexes, mixed with varying amounts of green. Back is an irridescent green in both sexes.
Habitat: Open woodland, chaparral, gardens.
Diet: Primarily nectar, also spiders and tree sap.
Displays: Male flight traces arc of vertical circle before female; rising very high, plummets downward making chirp sound at lowest point, then rises straight above female,
hovers and faces her at top of ascent, delivering brief squeaky song.
Nest: The cup-shaped nest is built in oak, vine, brush and human-built structures. It is thick and made of plant down bound with spiders' silk, lined with plant down and feathers. Building continues after the eggs are laid.
Eggs: White, unmarked; about one-half inch long.
Natural history notes: Once these birds wintered primarily in Mexico, but widespread planting of eucalyptus and cultivation of year-round garden flowers have led to permanent residency by many birds in coastal California. It is the most common and widespread of Orange County's hummingbirds.
Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas (now in its fifth and final year), call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.
Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.
Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).
DR, RUSS ARASMITH / Los Angeles Times