On a sunny May morning in the Southeast Alaska fishing community of Pelican, a big hummingbird feeder is a madhouse of activity. Dozens of rufous hummingbirds are flitting about, darting in and hovering to feed, and chasing each other.
Only two hummingbird species are found in Alaska, the very common Rufous hummingbird and the formerly pretty rare Anna's Hummingbird. Anna’s Hummingbirds are striking in appearance, with an emerald green back and a grey belly - easy to distinguish from the rufous hummingbird’s rusty red back and brown belly. The first record of an Anna’s Hummingbird in Alaska was in 1971. Before that they were only found along the west coast of U.S. In recent decades, Anna’s hummingbirds have expanded their range more than 700 kilometers northward, into British Columbia and Alaska, and feeders are a big reason. More feeders encourage more birds, and more birds encourage more feeding. Now they’re found in Alaska – scattered across Southeast and even as far north as Kodiak Island, and they’ve even been seen in winter. In December 2021 during the Christmas bird count, 21 Anna’s hummingbirds were documented in Ketchikan, all at feeders.