Eye to eye with an Anna's hummingbird

June 23, 2014, 1 p.m.

Getting close to a tiny flying jewel, the hummingbird

This amazing close-up shot of a wild Anna's hummingbird shows off the gorgeous detail of its feathers, including the distinctive iridescent feathers of its neck. These birds are only about 4 to 4.3 inches long. The species bred exclusively in northern Baja California and southern California up until the early 20th century. But the growing popularity of gardens featuring the ornamental trees and shrubs on which the birds feed has helped expand their range. They're now found throughout the west coast, all the way up to southern Canada. Because they feed on nectar, they're an important pollinator. The pollen collects on their feathers and is distributed as they flit from plant to plant. When in flight, they can shake their bodies in a similar fashion to a dog shaking off water, a movement that helps get rid of pollen or dirt. The rate of shake is 55 times per second, which is the fastest of any vertebrate on earth!

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