Foam Lake Birding No. 29

No. 29
Because of its geography, North America is a land mass that has an east-west bias. The continent is a massive plain flanked by the Appalachian Mountains in the east, the Rockies in the west, and capped by the Boreal Forest in the North. Except for southern California, both coasts receive abundant rainfall, and as a result are heavily forested. Evergreens are predominant in the west; hardwoods in the east. Due to several factors, the plains are wetter to the east and north (prairie), and drier to the south and west (desert). With the exception of the Arctic north of the Boreal Forest, this generally describes the continent of North America.
These differences in geography have created other differences as well. Socially, just about everybody is familiar with the economic and political differences that exist between the east and the west in Canada. In addition, many of our sporting activities are based on east-west competition – especially the CFL. As it is with human activity, so it is with wildlife.
For example, hummingbirds are very east-west oriented. Except for some isolated spots and a few strays, no hummingbirds can be found on the plains. (We, in Foam Lake, are in the park belt zone and not the plains). One species, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird, is found throughout the east and southern edge of the Boreal Forest extending almost to the Rockies. This is the one found in Saskatchewan. Over a dozen species occur, mostly in the drier mountainous regions, in the west. Four of them can be found in the mountains and adjacent areas of Alberta and British Columbia.
Many hummingbirds are highly migratory, but a few are permanent residents. One such species, Anna’s Hummingbird, is found from southern British Columbia to Northern Mexico. At a glance, it looks pretty much like any other hummingbird, but close observation quickly brings out its distinctions. Its unique feature is that its throat and entire front and sides of the head are a pinkish red; other hummingbirds show their red colouration, if any, on the throat alone. The female also shows red on the throat though much less than the male. The red on the female’s throat is a feature unique to the Anna’s Hummingbird. In North America, no other female hummingbird has even a trace of red on its throat. When perched, Anna’s Hummingbirds have a big-headed appearance.
This week’s picture was taken at a feeder south of Tucson in Arizona in the spring. The bird is in its finest spring plumage. To those travelers who visit or holiday in British Columbia, especially the Okanagan, be on the lookout for the other hummers as well. Three common ones are: the Black Chinned, Calliope and Rufous. They are there. One just has to be prepared by knowing what to expect. Studying a good bird book, in advance, for specific birds is invaluable.