There are three species of hummingbirds that can easily be spotted here in the Conejo Valley.  The most common is the Anna's Hummingbird and can be identified by its vibrant colors.  The Allen's Hummingbird and Rufous Hummingbird look very similar to eachother due to their brown coloring but both tend to have seasonal migration patterns. 

This newsletter will identify some of the unique behaviors of this tiny bird.  It will also give tips on how to attract these beautiful creatures to your own backyard.
Can you spot the Difference?
Anna's Hummingbird is usually adorned with bright red, purple, or green feathers around the neck and head.  The Allen's Hummingbird is usually brown with a white collar.  The Rufous Hummingbird is a cinnamon or rust brown and has a white chest, making it look like it is wearing a tuxedo.  Looking at the pictures above, can you tell which species is which? 

Interesting Fact:
Rufous Hummingbirds tend to be a bit more aggressive than other species of hummingbirds.  They are also known to be territorial.  I saw this firsthand in my own backyard.  We had a hummingbird feeder on our patio.  Any time a hummingbird would stop by to take a drink, a little brown Rufous would swoop in and scare it away.  It would sit on a branch on a nearby tree and guard my feeder from any other visitor.
A hummingbird mama will begin to make her nest as early as December.  The nest is usually made of soft, stretchy materials like leaves, spider webs, lichen, and any other soft fiber they can find in the area.  This does make the nest cozy, but its primary purpose is to allow the nest to stretch bigger as the babies grow. 
The mama lays one to two eggs about the size of a coffee bean.  For three weeks, the mama waits patiently for her babies to hatch. Once they hatch, she will find insects to eat and feed to her babies until they are ready to leave the nest.
Hummingbird Diet
I was always under the impression that hummingbirds only drank nectar.  Although they do love those sweet drinks, they are also fantastic pest control.  They get their protein by catching gnats and mosquitoes in mid-air.  They also enjoy eating ants and spiders they find on flowers.
Where in the Conejo to Spot a Hummingbird
If there are flowers, you will be able to spot a hummingbird in the Conejo Valley.  A fantastic place for all ages to see these little birds year-round is the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden.  For information about hours and trail guides, visit their website at:

If you love watching these creatures, I highly recommend adding a few hummingbird feeders to your porch or window.  It will not take long for hummingbirds to find it.  In fact, they are known to remember where they feed, which is why even migrating birds may return to the same feeder.  You do not need to purchase refills.  Simply use the recipe below and you will have wonderful birdwatching outside your window year-round. 

Hummingbird Feeder Recipe:
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

If you mix up small quantities of sugar water every day or two, there’s no need to boil the water. But if you mix up larger batches and refrigerate part for later use, then it’s wise to make the mixture with boiling water.

Do not add red dye.

WARNING: Other birds like warblers and woodpeckers may stop by and use your hummingbird feeder as well.  I had a few woodpeckers that would visit mine from time to time and it was always a shock (and humorous) to see such a large bird at the feeder when I was used to seeing only hummingbirds.
Anna's Hummingbirds usually do not migrate.  They have been known to move to different parts of a community during certain seasons due to food availability.  Rufous and Allen's Hummingbirds, however, do travel 4,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska every spring.  Some birds of this species do appreciate the weather and abundant food sources in our area so they become full-time residents. 
The Smallest Bird
in the World
The very smallest bird on Earth is the Bee Hummingbird, which can be found in the Zapata Peninsula off of Cuba. 
To read earlier issues of the Conejo Valley Nature Club Newsletter visit:
If you would like this information in a format you can distribute to your class, let's chat! Email Christina at
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