Let’s talk about sex

Anna's Hummingbird hovering and eating from flowers on Salvia shrub

Ah, Anna’s Hummingbird – the mainstay of the Pacific Coast bird world. This tiny creature, weighing in at less than a quarter of an ounce, with a wingspan of only 4.5 inches, is a common fixture in the California garden. But, even so, I never get tired of observing its fascinating feeding, mating, and child-rearing antics.

The affections of many might lean toward the more glitzy of the sexes, the male hummingbird, with his enrapturing mating “dance” and brightly colored gorget (get your head out of the gutter – this is just his patch of iridescent throat feathers). Yet I find myself more enchanted by the less showy (but still sparkly) female. I’d even go as far as to say the male is all flash, no substance – except he does literally provide one crucial substance in the reproduction of the species. Sperm. And once he’s shared it with one female, this habitual womanizer quickly moves onto to share it with the next, and the next, and so on. He leaves the nest building, egg incubation, and feeding of babies to the female, who does all this with little fanfare. It might be oversimplification to draw comparisons to the human deadbeat dad and the worn to the bone, doting mom, but if it helps you understand the nature of the two hummingbird sexes, I’ve done my job. And I suppose the hummingbirds have, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment