Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Hummingbirds Now Nesting in Anza Borrego


Feeding follows incubation--and will soon produce fledglings, probably three in this case.

©Bert Gildart: Early this morning, a young woman approached Eric Hansen and me as we were peering through long telephoto lens, focused, as seemed apparent, on a tiny nest in a tree that had been roped off to prevent people from disturbing the inhabitants.

“Are you photographing sheep?” the lady inquired.

“No ma’am,” we’re photographing hummingbirds. She returns about every 20 minutes with food for its young.”

The question seemed so absurd that Eric and I could not help but laugh (after she’d left), but then we started thinking about the level of knowledge many people have about wildlife and then it seemed more understandable. We also recalled some of the disregard some show wildlife.


Anza Borrego Desert State Park is not far from many major West Coast cities, and that means that many people may be making their first contact with nature. It’s like when I worked in Glacier National Park. “Hey, Ranger, what time do you all turn on the waterfalls?”

The hummingbirds we were photographing had been discovered by other park visitors and employees here had roped off the area to keep people from approaching too closely. Last year, visitors were approaching nests within inches and some were even shaking the branch upon which the nests were fastened!


This year the park has located and blocked off two nest and we think they may be different species. One may be the Costa’s hummingbird, the other the Anna’s hummingbird.

Naturalists here say it is extremely difficult to I.D. them unless you see the male. Still, our National Geographic bird book implies that you can make educated guesses by looking at the throat. Anna’s hummingbird, the books says, has red flecks “often forming a patch of color.” Based on that description we’re differentiating between the two, saying we are photographing two different species.


One of the birds is still incubating its eggs and that we believe is the Anna’s hummingbird. The other, the one that is now feeding its young, we believe may be the Costa’s.

We can not help commenting on the size of the birds and believe that if we could take six or seven pennies and line them up, that would represent the size of the adult birds. Our bird book says they’re about 3 ½ inches from the tip of their beaks to the tip of their tails.

We also wonder what the female (the male is not involved in care of the young) is feeding its young. Whatever it is, she is gone about 20 minutes, returns and then feeds her three (we think the nest contains three) young. That takes several minutes, and upon completion, she scooted back onto the nest, covers her brood and then, for a very brief moment, seems to simply rest. A minute later she’s gone again, back to find more food, which we believe must be nectar. We do, however, know that she also collects water, as we once saw her by a tiny puddle, drinking. Then she returned to her nest, apparently to feed her young from materials she collected and had stored in her gullet.


Photographing hummingbirds can be a challenge, and both Eric and I used 400mm lens that had close focusing capabilities. As well, we both used strobe lights to add a catch light to the bird’s eye.


What you're seeing is either a Costa's or Anna's hummingbird, and most likely you are viewing it on your screen at about life size.

We never ventured over the ribboned-off area and would, in fact, have been disadvantaged to do so, as we would have exceeded the focusing capability of our long lenses. That, at least was true for the Costa’s hummingbird. The Anna’s hummingbird had selected her nest site just feet from the people trail, so I could use a shorter lens, which I quickly did.

Unfortunately, our friends Eric and Sue must soon leave, but we’ll be here for another week and I hope to see the young take their maiden flights. Hummingbirds live fast and grow fast, so my chances are fairly good.



*Death Valley and the Challenge For Photographers


3 Responses to “Hummingbirds Now Nesting in Anza Borrego”

  1. Ron Niebrugge Says:

    Hi Bert,

    Nice to meet you this morning. I have enjoyed reading your blog – nice work!


  2. Larry Ko Says:

    Hi Bert,

    I have been watching the hummingbirds nesting in the lemon tree in our front yard. It is the same tree from which the lemons I gave you are from. Today, I saw one small beak protruding from the nest while the mother was foraging for food. They often fly by and watch me through the window while I am at the computer.

    Wishing Janie and you a Happy Valentine’s Day,


    Hi Bert and Janie,

    Send those lovely hummingbirds on their way to Montana. Snow is still deep, but the sun has been shining for several days. We miss you.

    Rand and Linda