Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens)
Pacific Beach, San Diego County, California
28 November 2003
Joseph Morlan

Photo © 21 October 2003 by Matt Sadowski. All rights reserved.
Today Robbie Fischer and I visited Kate Sessions Park in Pacific Beach to look for the Magnificent Hummingbird which had been present off-and-on since 11 October 2003 when discovered by Norm Shrout. I was waiting by the purple flowering Morning Glories along the fence near the southeast corner of the park when Martin Meyers arrived. We were chatting and not really expecting to see much. The hummingbird had not been seen in over a week and there were reportedly fewer flowers than earlier. We were waiting in the right-of-way at the end of Academy St. when the owner of the house approached us and told us the bird was gone. All of a sudden I noticed a large hummingbird feeding on the Morning Glories and quickly realized I had the bird. Martin got on it right away. It looked much like a female Anna's Hummingbird, but had a much longer bill and more massive slightly notched tail. It was also darker on the underparts including the undertail coverts and darker on the face and throat with just a small white spot behind the eye. In flight I noticed small whitish corners to the tail. Very quickly the bird was chased off by an Anna's Hummingbird and we could clearly see that the bird was about twice the size of the adjacent Anna's. Total viewing time was about 10 seconds.

Robbie arrived about 10 minutes later and after another 15 minutes we glimpsed a large hummingbird flying south behind the house. As we were leaving, Martin got a brief view of the bird perched, although the head was not visible. He noticed a strong white patch near the legs, separating the gray-green underparts from the gray undertail coverts. However at this time the bird's head was not visible. The bird flew off before we were able to get back. Martin got one more brief (3 second) view of the bird feeding at the Morning Glories after we left.

Views overall were fairly frustrating, although we have no doubt that we saw the bird. We were unable to get scope views or to obtain photographs and the bird did not call while we were present.


This is probably the first California record of this species, although an adult male seen briefly without binoculars at Ridgcrest, Kern County, 24 April 1984 was not accepted by the California Bird Records Committee. Earlier California records not accepted were from Auburn, Placer County 7 Sep 1977 and Riverside, Riverside County, 4 May 1978.

Additional photos by Matt Sadowski have been posted here, here, here and here. The above photo has been adjusted in photoshop to remove eyeshine.