California Hummingbirds – 14 Awesome Aviators

California is home to numerous hummingbirds both year-round and seasonal. There are even a few species of hummingbirds that are rarely only found in California as exotic visitors.

While it is easy to assume all hummingbirds are the same when we rarely see them as more than a jewel-toned flashing blur as they jet around our hanging flowers and porches; they reside in different geographic ranges, temperaments, varied nesting habits, and diverse coloring.

Which Species of California Hummingbirds Are Found In The State?

There are fourteen species of hummingbirds documented as seen in California. Documented California hummingbirds, listed in order of frequently seen are Anna’s, Allen’s, Costa’s, Black-chinned, Rufous, Calliope, Broad-billed, Broad-tailed, Ruby-throated, Violet-crowned, Rivoli’s, Xantus’s, Blue-throated Mountain-gem, and Mexican-violetear.

These are the California statistics at the beginning of 2024, as reported by eBird.org.
Click the “Documented” link below for the current California stats.

Hummingbirds:Number Seen:Documented:
Anna’s1,850,000Documented
Allen’s510,400Documented
Costa’s86,736Documented
Black-chinned78,829Documented
Rufous57,500Documented
Calliope11,352Documented
Broad-billed1,134Documented
Broad-tailed610Documented
Ruby-throated190Documented
Violet-crowned68Documented
Rivoli’s21Documented
Xantus’s16Documented
Blue-throated Mountain-gem13Documented
Mexican-violetear4Documented
Total Seen:2,596,873
See current sighting maps in California by clicking the “Documented” link in the table.
Hummingbird:
Anna’sYear-round Resident
Allen’sYear-round Resident
Costa’sYear-round Resident
Black-chinnedSeasonal Resident
RufousSeasonal Resident
CalliopeSeasonal Resident
Broad-billedSeasonal Resident
Broad-tailedRare/Vagrant Resident
Ruby-throatedRare/Vagrant Resident
Violet-crownedRare/Vagrant Resident
Rivoli’sRare/Vagrant Resident
Xantus’sRare/Vagrant Resident
Blue-throated Mountain-gemRare/Vagrant Resident
Mexican-violetearRare/Vagrant Resident
Year-round, Seasonal, or Rare/Vagrant

For more information on California hummingbirds:
Read my article: California Hummingbird Migration

California Hummingbirds That Are Year-Round Residents

Anna’s, Allen’s, and Costa’s hummingbirds are classified as year-round residents in California.

This hummingbird classification is defined as year-round residents residing in California 365 days a year.

Contrary to popular belief, hummingbirds can withstand far lower temperatures than most people would expect.Some banded hummingbirds have been observed at temperatures as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit, according to eBird.org.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Anna’s Hummingbirds:

ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD – (Calypte anna) 

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Calypte
Species: C. anna

The Anna’s hummingbird, scientifically known as Calypte anna, gets its common name from Anna Masséna, the Duchess of Rivoli.

Male Anna’s hummingbirds:
In North America, male Anna’s hummingbirds are the only species of hummingbirds with a red crown. Their predominant colors are magenta, gray, and green.

The male gorget and crown are iridescent magenta, and they are very vivid and showy.

Male Annas 7
Adult Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: The metallic green glossy back with iridescent magenta gorget and crown

They weigh between 2.4 and 4.5 grams and have lengths ranging from 3.5 to 4.3 inches.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird. 
This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Annas Tail Fan Rick In The Wild cropped
Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: IntheWildwithRick

Female Anna’s hummingbirds:
Female Anna’s hummingbirds are pale green in hue, not as brilliant as the males. Although a showy gorget is more prevalent on the males, females can also have them, showing a tiny area of magenta.
Females are identified by the faint white line that usually covers each eye.

Female Anna’s hummingbirds raise their young with no help from the males.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Female Annas WINGSPREAD IntheWildwithRick CA
Female Anna’s Hummingbird 
Photo by: IntheWildwithRick
Female Annas 2 kevs birdsnstuff OR
Female Anna’s Hummingbird 
Photo by: Kevin Walsh
Female Annas feeding babies 1 IntheWildwithRick
Female and Two Baby Anna’s Hummingbirds
Photo by: IntheWildwithRick

Juvenile Anna’s hummingbirds:
Juvenile Anna’s hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the bright red/magenta gorget.

Male Annas 4
Juvenile Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: This Anna’s hummingbird may be a youngster going through the awkward adolescent years, or it may be in the process of molting.

Juv Male Annas 1 Bob Free CA
Juvenile Male Anna’s Hummingbird 
Photo by: Bob Free

Baby Anna’s hummingbirds:
Baby Anna’s hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Juv Male Annas OR
Baby/Juvenile Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: The magenta head feathers of this baby/juvenile male Anna’s hummingbird are starting to show at his temple and a hint of color is beginning to appear on his gorget.

Also, notice the great fat reserves he has amassed from being fed by his vigilant mother and his newly white fluffy down feathers near his bottom.

Female Annas OR 1
Baby/Juvenile Female Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

71% of all California hummingbird sightings will be Anna’s hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California, 7,123 will be the Anna’s hummingbird.

The only hummingbird to reside year-round on the Pacific Coast, the Anna’s hummingbird is a native of the west coast of North America. 

Anna’s hummingbirds enjoy a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and fairly wet winters.

This species is a year-round resident in much of its range, unlike many other hummingbirds that migrate.

Male Anna’s are notable for their remarkable diving displays during mating season and their ability to thrive in urbanized areas.
The male Anna’s hummingbird executes dramatic and captivating displays during courtship and diving. The entire dive display lasts 12 seconds from start to finish.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

Unlike many northern temperate hummingbirds, male Anna’s hummingbirds sing during courtship along with making vibrations with their tail feathers to attract a female.

Anna’s hummingbirds protect their territory with elaborate dives targeted towards predatory birds and even towards people they perceive to be threatening.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Anna’s hummingbirds hybridize and readily crossbreed with other hummingbird species, such as the Black-chinned, Costa’s, and Rufous hummingbirds.

The oldest male Anna’s hummingbird known to exist was 8 years and 2 months old when he was captured and released during a banding expedition in Arizona.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Allen’s Hummingbirds:

ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD – (Selasphorus sasin)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: S. sasin

The scientific name of the Allen’s hummingbird is Selasphorus sasin.
The common name of the Allen’s hummingbird is in commemoration of Charles Andrew Allen (1841-1930), an American collector and taxidermist. 

Male Allen’s hummingbirds:
Male Allen’s hummingbirds are green-backed with a green forehead and rust-colored flanks, rump, and tail. When their tail feathers are fanned out you can see their chocolate-colored tips. 

The gorget of the male Allen’s hummingbird is an iridescent orange-red, however, in darker lighting, it can appear chocolate brown.

Allen’s hummingbirds are 3.3 inches to 3.5 inches in length and weigh 2-4 grams.The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Male Allens 2 inthewildwithrick CA
Male Allen’s Hummingbird
Photo by: IntheWildwithRick

Note: The iridescent orange-red gorget.

Male Allens 1 inthewildwithrickCA
Male Allen’s Hummingbird
Photo by: IntheWildwithRick

Female Allen’s hummingbirds:
The female Allen’s hummingbird is less colorful than the male because it lacks the iridescent gorget.

In the wild, confusion may arise because certain females have stippling or color specs along their throat lines that resemble juvenile characteristics.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Female Allens 1 inthewildwithrick CA
Female Allen’s Hummingbird
Photo by: IntheWildwithRick
Humm parents Mate to Nest
Female Allen’s on Nest
Photo by: Aaron Gomperts

Juvenile Allen’s hummingbirds:
Both male and female juvenile Allen’s hummingbirds first resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the characteristic iridescent feathers of this species of hummingbird.

In the field, they are nearly identical to Rufous hummingbirds due to their striking similarity in colors and disposition.
Therefore, range rather than appearance is used to establish identity.

DSC01134 Male juv Allens WATERMARK use
Juvenile Male Allen’s Hummingbird 

Note: This juvenile male Allen’s hummingbird is protecting a feeder while perching on a tomato cage.
You will see that he still has some stippling around his throat and some fluffy white down feathers near his bottom.
He appears to be in the early stages of adolescence because a full gorget has not yet developed.

DSC00654 crop WATERMARKED
Juvenile Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Note: Depending on the lighting, the gorget may appear chocolate brown.

Additionally, you will see that he still has some fluffy white down feathers near his bottom, indicating that he is in the latter stages of adolescence rather than being a fully grown adult.

Baby Allen’s hummingbirds:
Baby Allen’s hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Baby Allens WATERMARK
Baby Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Note: He is guarding a neighboring feeder with diligence.

Observe the developmental differences between the juvenile in the last shot on the tomato cage and the current photo on the outside light wire.

They both have fluffy white feathers near their bottoms, yet there is a noticeable age difference between youth and maturity.

20% of all California hummingbird sightings will be Allen’s hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California, 1,965 will be the Allen’s hummingbird.

Male Allen’s hummingbirds engage in a dramatic, fast-paced courtship dance that mimics a pendulum’s swing. Of all the hummingbirds in North America, their territorial dive displays are among the most intricate.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

Allen’s hummingbirds, both male and female, are gregarious birds. Other than mating, they do not interact with each other.

They are fiercely territorial and hostile toward other hummingbirds as well as larger predatory birds like hawks, much like Rufous hummingbirds.

Allen’s hummingbirds are primarily found in coastal parts of California and Oregon, USA. They prefer habitats like gardens, forested or shrubby areas, and coastal chaparral.

They migrate to southern Mexico in the winter, covering quite long distances for such small birds.Allen’s hummingbirds are highly territorial, especially the males during the breeding season. They engage in aggressive aerial displays to defend their feeding territories from intruders. These displays include high-speed chases and intricate flight patterns.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Allen’s hummingbirds commonly reside and nest along the west coast and winter in Mexico. Their nesting season is perfectly timed with when the regions have the most rainfall which helps provide prolific nectar producing flowers for their offspring.

Usually found in trees or shrubs, females use plant materials and spider webs to construct tiny, cup-shaped nests. Each time they attempt to reproduce, they lay one to two eggs, which they then incubate for two to three weeks. 

For several weeks after hatching, the young remain totally reliant on their mother for nourishment and protection until they are able to fly.

In their natural range, Allen’s hummingbirds often visit gardens and areas with bird feeders. They are a favorite among bird watchers and nature enthusiasts for their colorful appearance and lively behavior.

The future of Allen’s hummingbirds, like many species, is closely tied to environmental factors and human influence on their habitats. Habitat loss and the use of pesticides are among the challenges they face. Efforts to preserve natural habitats, along with responsible gardening and the maintenance of bird feeders, aids in their conservation.

Understanding and protecting Allen’s hummingbirds is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance and for the continued enjoyment of future generations who will marvel at this vibrant and lively bird.

In 2004, and again in 2009, the oldest known living Allen’s hummingbird was taken during a California banding program that involved catch and release. She was 5 years and 11 months old at the time.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Costa’s Hummingbirds:

COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD – (Calypte costae)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Calypte
Species: C. costae

The scientific name of the Costa’s hummingbird is Calypte costae.

Jules Bourcier named the Costa’s hummingbird in 1839 in honor of Louis Marie Pantaleon Costa, a French naturalist, and ardent hummingbird collector.

He was recognized for his contributions to the field, and thus, the bird was named in his honor. 

This practice of naming species after people, especially those who have made significant contributions to science or natural history, is quite common in taxonomy.
Male Costa’s hummingbirds:
The male Costa’s hummingbird is a small and vibrant bird, easily recognizable by its distinct coloration and features.

It possesses a bright reddish-purple cap, which covers the head feathers, and a similarly colored gorget, which is the area around the throat.

Male Costa 6 AZ
Male Costa’s Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

Unique to this species, the gorget displays long streaming throat feathers that extend on both sides of its face, bearing a resemblance to the feather arrangement found in Calliope hummingbirds.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

In contrast to the vivid colors of its head and throat, the male Costa’s hummingbird has a subdued body coloration. Its underbelly is light greenish-gray, providing a soft counterbalance to the brilliance of its head. 

The back and flanks of the bird display a green hue, seamlessly blending with its natural habitats.

Regarding its size, the male Costa’s hummingbird is relatively small, measuring between 3 to 3.5 inches in length, and is lightweight, tipping the scales at just 2 to 3 grams. 

This combination of striking head and throat colors with its more muted body tones makes the male Costa’s hummingbird a distinctive and easily identifiable species among hummingbirds.

Female Costa’s hummingbirds:
The female Costa’s hummingbird presents a more subdued appearance compared to the strikingly vibrant males. Lacking the iridescent feathers that characterize their male counterparts, female Costa’s hummingbirds display a more understated coloration

Female Costas aaron G AZ
Female Costa’s Hummingbird
Photo By: Aaron Gomperts

Their grayish-light-green back is a muted hue that blends easily with the environment. This coloring provides excellent camouflage, especially in the bird’s natural habitats. 

The underbelly is a dusty white, further contributing to their less conspicuous appearance. This contrast between the slightly darker back and the lighter underbelly, while subtle, still offers a distinctive look within the species. The absence of the bright colors and iridescent feathers found in males is a common trait in many bird species, where females often have more subdued coloration, possibly as an evolutionary adaptation for better concealment while nesting and raising young.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Female Costa’s hummingbirds migrate north from Mexico to breed in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah.

Being a desert-dwelling species, Costa’s hummingbirds nest in open spaces with little vegetation. It has been observed that they build their nests on cacti. Predators that might try to consume the eggs or nestlings are discouraged from doing so by the plant’s thorns.
Read my article: 10 Common Things That Kill Hummingbirds

Juvenile Costa’s hummingbirds:
Both male and female juvenile Costa’s hummingbirds look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the iridescent feathers that are typical for males of this species of hummingbird.

Baby Male Costas 2 Hummingbirdsbysuprise AZ
Baby Male Costa’s Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdbysuprise

Baby Costa’s hummingbirds:
Baby Costa’s hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Juv Female Costas 1 Hummingbirdsbysuprise AZ
Baby Female Costa’s Hummingbird 
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

3% of all California hummingbird sightings will be Costa’s hummingbirds. hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California, 334 will be the Costa’s hummingbird.

Very little is known about Costa’s hummingbirds and their short migratory habits in comparison to other hummingbird species.

Costa’s hummingbirds are primarily found in arid and semi-arid environments, including deserts, scrublands, and chaparral regions. 

Living in dry habitats, Costa’s hummingbirds have developed adaptations to survive in these conditions. They are efficient in their water usage and can tolerate higher temperatures than many other bird species. 

Their choice of flowering plants also reflects their adaptation to their environment, often favoring those that thrive in arid conditions.

They are native to the southwestern United States and Baja California in Mexico, often found in areas with abundant flowering plants which are crucial for their survival.In terms of social behavior, Costa’s hummingbirds are generally solitary, especially outside of the breeding season. They can be territorial, with males often defending prime feeding territories from other hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Costas feeding war CROP hummsuprise
Male and Female Costa’s Hummingbirds
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

Although Costa’s hummingbirds will defend nectar sources amongst themselves, they are subordinate to larger hummingbirds and will defer to them if challenged. 

The Costa’s hummingbird is a partially migratory species. During the winter, birds in the northern portion of their range—especially those found in the United States—usually migrate southward to warmer climes. People in the southern portion of their range, particularly in Mexico, are frequently non-migratory.

The biggest danger facing Costa’s hummingbirds is human encroachment, which takes the shape of plowed desert areas cleared for habitation and grazing.

Costa’s hummingbirds are known to interbreed or cross-breed, producing hybrids between Anna’s, Black-chinned, Blue-throated, Broad-tailed, and Calliope hummingbirds

The oldest known female Costa’s hummingbird lived for 8 years and 9 months after being caught and released twice during a banding operation in California in 2001 and 2009.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

California Hummingbirds That Are Seasonal

There are 4 California hummingbirds classified as seasonal hummingbirds. They are the Black-chinned, Rufous, Calliope, and Broad-billed hummingbirds.  

Hummingbirds that fit within this category are those that migrate through California on a spring or fall emigration basis.

Hummingbirds move south to spend the winter in Mexico and Central America in the fall, after migrating north in the spring to reproduce.

Due to their preference, an ailment, or advanced age, certain seasonal hummingbirds may spend the whole winter in the state.

Black-Chinned Hummingbirds:

BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD – (Archilochus alexandri)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Archilochus
Species: A. alexandri

The Black-chinned hummingbird’s scientific name is in commemoration of Dr. Alexandre, a French doctor who was the first to discover the species in Mexico.

Male Black-chinned hummingbirds:
The royal purple gorget resembling a buttoned-up shirt with a small flash of color right near the neckline is the distinguishing feature of male Black-chinned hummingbirds. 

The male’s purple gorget or throat in some lighting at times looks entirely black.

Their flanks and backs are metallic green, while their undersides are white. They have a black bill and a forked dark tail.
Their length ranges from 3.25 to 3.5 inches, and they weigh between 2.8 and 5.6 grams.

Their length ranges from 3.25 to 3.5 inches, and they weigh between 2.8 and 5.6 grams.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Male-Black-Chinned-ID
Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Male Black chinned bird.whisperer UT
Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: bird.whisperer

Female Black-chinned hummingbirds:
Compared to their male counterparts, female Black-chinned hummingbirds are less colorful and lack a gorget and iridescent feathers. 

White tips and beige edges on the dorsal feathers, which turn dark black as they age, adorn their dark, rounded tail, which has a white underbelly.  They have dull metallic marbled colors on their head and backs that resemble snake scales: beige, green, white, yellow-green, and dark brown.
Read my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Female Black chinned AZ 1
Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysurpise

Juvenile Black-chinned hummingbirds:
Male and female juvenile Black-chinned hummingbirds initially resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the iridescent feathers that are characteristic of this species of hummingbird.

Juv Black chinned 1 hummingbirdsbysuprise AZ
Juvenile Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

Baby Black-chinned hummingbirds:
Baby Black-chinned hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Baby Black chinned bird.whisperer UT
Baby Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: bird.whisperer

3% of all California hummingbird sightings will be Black-chinned hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California, 303 will be Black-chinned hummingbirds.

Black-chinned hummingbirds breed to the east of the Cascade mountain range. By employing a decoy tactic, they are known to build their nests close to larger, busier bird nests, hence decreasing the likelihood of predators nearby. Of all extant mammals or vertebrates, Black-chinned hummingbirds have the least amount of genetic material known to science. Due to their little size, they run the risk of becoming prey for larger birds that consume insects.
See my article: 10 Common Things That Kill Hummingbirds

Particularly while protecting “their” feeders, hummingbirds come across as the most ruthless sheriff in the area due to their intense territoriality. To defend nectar sources full of blooming plants that attract hummingbirds, they will engage in territorial conflicts.
Although Black-chinned hummingbirds are a territorial species, they will become less aggressive and learn to share if they happen to be in an area with a high hummingbird population and food sources.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Female Black Chinned and Broad billed fighting humbysuprise AZ
Female Black-Chinned and Male Broad-Billed Hummingbird 
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

The lifespan of a Black-chinned hummingbird is an astounding ten years, compared to other animals and birds of comparable size. 

Black-chinned hummingbirds easily hybridize and interbreed with other hummingbird species, including Costa’s and Anna’s.

In Texas, during a banding and capture effort, the oldest known female Black-chinned hummingbird was 11 years and 2 months old.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Rufous Hummingbirds:

RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD – (Selasphorus rufus)

Conservation Status: Near threatened
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: S. rufous

The Latin word rubrum, which means “red,” is the source of the Rufous hummingbird’s name due to its reddish-brown color.

Male Rufous hummingbirds:
The orange-red gorget of a male rufous hummingbird is iridescent, and their tail and sides have a rusty hue. Their underside is beige to white, and their bill is black. 

Along with chocolate brown dorsal feathers, males can also have green plumage with green spots on their rustic-looking backs or on the summit of their heads.

They weigh 3.2 grams and range in length from 2.8 to 3.5 inches.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird. This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Male Rufous 7 OR
Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: The iridescent orange-red gorget.

Male Rufous 4 OR
Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: The gorget appears chocolate brown in this lighting, however, you can still see a glimmer of his iridescent orange-red gorget with some hints of yellow.

Female Rufous hummingbirds:
The female Rufous hummingbird is less colorful than the male because it lacks a gorget and iridescent feathers.

In the wild, confusion may arise, though, because certain females have stippling or color specs along their throat line that resemble juvenile characteristics.

Female Rufous rwf1954 CA
Adult Female Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Bob Free
Female Rufous OR 1
Female Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

They are slightly larger than the males in anticipation of producing offspring.
They have one of the northernmost breeding ranges of any hummingbird in the world; migrating north from Mexico and nesting as far north as Alaska to breed during the summer months.

They are polygamous and will mate with several partners in a season.
Read my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Juvenile Rufous hummingbirds:
In the wild, juvenile Rufous hummingbirds and Allen’s hummingbirds are nearly identical in terms of color and behavior.

Therefore, range rather than appearance is used to establish identity.
The juvenile male Rufous’ rustic appearance is attributed to the iridescent orange dots on their neck.

Juv Rufous 2 OHIO

Note: The throat feathers are slowly coming in, displaying a few dots of color near his neckline and showing the first stages of adolescence.

Juv Rufous 3 OHIO
Juvenile Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar
Juv Rufous 4 OHIO
Juvenile Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

Note: Preening flight feathers is an important daily routine to maintain hygiene and to keep the feathers flexible, strong, in alignment, and parasite-free.

Baby Rufous Hummingbirds:
Baby Rufous hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

2% of all California hummingbird sightings will be Rufous hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California 221 will be the Rufous hummingbird.

Of all the birds in the world, Rufous hummingbirds migrate within the United States for the longest period of time. Every year, they traverse 3,900 miles in a clockwise manner around western America.

This migratory pattern during the seasons coordinates their arrival perfectly while catching nectar and blooming flowers throughout the year, fueling their bodies for their long journey.

In order to support a healthy migration, hummingbird enthusiasts are very beneficial when they cultivate blooming plants to draw hummingbirds and supply feeders with homemade hummingbird nectar. 

These friendly environments offer and guarantee safe trips in addition to a dependable haven for relaxation and refueling while on the road.

A large number of Rufous hummingbirds will choose to move south to Mexico rather than stay in California for the winter. Hummingbirds, however, can withstand far lower temperatures than most people think.

According to eBird.org, through branding practices in Wisconsin, the Rufous and Ruby-throated hummingbirds are documented surviving in temperatures of -9F and wind chills of -36F.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Many California hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to the most commonly seen residents: the Anna’s, Allen’s, and Costa’s hummingbirds.

This selfless act also provides nectar to other injured or older hummingbirds that are unable to migrate.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

When it comes to other hummingbirds and animals, Rufous hummingbirds are fiercely possessive and hostile. They are known for being aggressive and bold, driving large birds and rodents away from their favorite feeders in addition to other hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Male Rufous DIVE Bob Free CA
Adult Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Bob Free

It has even been observed that female mothers may attack squirrels and chipmunks that approach their nest too closely.

Due to their remarkable memory, Rufous hummingbirds have been observed to search for an abandoned hummingbird feeder years after it has been taken down.
Read my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

Because of their unparalleled flying acrobatics, Rufous hummingbirds are fierce competitors at feeders, outmaneuvering all other species.

Rufous hummingbirds easily hybridize and cross-breed with other hummingbird species, such as Anna’s hummingbirds.

IUCN Red List classifies the Rufous hummingbird as “near threatened” because of habitat destruction in the Pacific Northwest.

In British Columbia, during a banding operation, the oldest living Rufous hummingbird was documented at 8 years and 10 months old.
Read my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Calliope Hummingbirds:

CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD – (Selasphorus calliope)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: S. calliope

Calliope hummingbirds are named after a Greek mythological muse, who represented poetry and eloquence. Calliope means “beautiful voice” in ancient Greek.

Male Calliope hummingbirds:
The long, stunning row of feathers that protrude down the sides of the throat and their iridescent purple cap are characteristics that make male Calliope hummingbirds clearly identifiable.

These hummingbirds, which are 3 inches long and weigh 2-3 grams, have shiny green backs like many others. 

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Calliope Male ID
Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Male Calliope 1 Bob Free CA
Adult Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: Bob Free

Female Calliope hummingbirds:
The female Calliope hummingbird is less colorful than the male and lacks a gorget and iridescent feathers. Their head’s crown, or top, has a grayish-green hue.

The buff hue of the flanks refers to the sides, underbelly, and area beneath the wings.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Calliope Female ID
Female Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Female Calliope 1 Anthony Lujan
Female Calliope Hummingbird 
Photo by: Anthony Lujan

Juvenile Calliope hummingbirds:
Male and female juvenile Calliope hummingbirds initially resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the iridescent feathers that are characteristic of this species of hummingbird.

Calliope Juv Male ID
Juvenile Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male

Note: His bright throat feathers are slowly coming in.

Baby Calliope hummingbirds:
Baby Calliope hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

0.44% of all California hummingbird sightings will be Calliope hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 43 will be the Calliope hummingbird.

Like many other hummingbirds, Calliopes use their feathers to manipulate their flight path in order to produce a variety of buzzing noises that serve as a type of language. 

The male will fervently fly back and forth and perform a “U” shaped courtship display to get the attention of the female when she is quietly perched.

He will perform a vocal serenade for the female while swaying his body back and forth in front of her.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

A breeding area is established by male Calliope hummingbirds, who mate with any female that accepts their wooing.

In terms of social behavior, Calliope hummingbirds are generally solitary, especially outside of the breeding season. They are territorial, with males often defending prime feeding territories from other hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

The world’s smallest long-distance migratory bird is the Calliope hummingbird. Their springtime migration patterns resemble those of Rufous hummingbirds. 

Throughout their northward spring migration where they breed, they traverse the Pacific Flyways. On their southbound journey in the fall, they pass through the Pacific and Rocky Mountain Flyways towards their wintering destination in Mexico. 

During the breeding season, female Calliope hummingbirds select the tips of pine cones as her building site for her nest. Along with stealing materials from other birds’ nests to build her own, she will also disassemble and recycle previous seasons’ nests. 

Therefore, larger and more aggressive hummingbirds, such as Allen’s and Rufous hummingbirds, frequently chase and attack female Calliopes. Compared to other species, the Calliope keeps a low profile in order to evade these attacks. 

Calliope hummingbirds hybridize and readily crossbreed with other hummingbird species, such as the Costa’s hummingbird.

Calliope hummingbirds are especially susceptible to habitat loss and natural catastrophes like wildfires and climate change because they have a smaller wintering range than other hummingbird species.

The oldest known female Calliope hummingbird was twice captured during a 2007 and 2014 banding operation in Idaho. She was 8 years and 11 months old at the time of her capture.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Broad-Billed Hummingbirds:

BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD – (Cynanthus latirostris)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Cynanthus
Species: C. latirostris

The Broad-billed hummingbird, scientifically named Cynanthus latirostris, is known for its distinctive broad bill, which is the origin of its common name.
Their broad bills are particularly adapted for feeding on a variety of flowers.

Although most of the population of Broad-billed hummingbirds remains in Mexico and Central America throughout the year, they are a Mexican species that regularly visits the United States close to the southern Mexican border.

Male Broad-billed hummingbirds:
The brilliant blue-green gorget of male Broad-billed hummingbirds stretches back towards their shoulders. They have a long, brilliant orange-red beak with a distinctive black tip.

Their length varies from 3.25 to 4 inches, and they weigh between 3 and 4 grams.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Broad billed 2 Anthony Lujan
Male Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Photo by: Anthony Lujan
Male Broad billed 3 Anthony Lujan
Male Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Photo by: Anthony Lujan

Female Broad-billed hummingbirds:
Generally speaking, female Broad-billed hummingbirds lack iridescent feathers and have a duller appearance than males.

Male and female Broad billed hummingbirdsbysuprise
Male and female Broad-billed hummingbirds
Photo by: hummingbirdbysuprise

Their bill is entirely black, with a larger white accent over their eyes. They are recognized by their mainly metallic green upperparts and white undersides.
Their tails are forked and have a black tint.

Juvenile Broad-billed hummingbirds:
Male and female juvenile Broad-billed hummingbirds initially resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the iridescent feathers that are characteristic of this species of hummingbird.

Male juveniles display a full charcoal dark gray body, a light green neck and backside with flecks of metallic blue on their throat.

Juv male Broad billed 1 Anthony Lujan
Juvenile Male Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Photo by: Anthony Lujan
Broad Billed 2 Madera Canyon AZ arron cropped
Juvenile Male Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Photo by: Aaron Gomperts

Baby Broad-billed hummingbirds:
Baby Broad-billed hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Baby Broad billed 1 hummingbirdsbysuprise AZ
Baby Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

0.04% of all California’s hummingbird sightings will be Broad-billed hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 4 will be the Broad-billed hummingbird.

Broad-billed hummingbirds are native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and down into Central America. 

They prefer habitats such as canyons, riverine woodlands, and sometimes gardens or urban areas with suitable flowering plants.

Nests made by Broad-billed hummingbirds are identified by their lack of lichen decoration on the exterior. 
Instead, the birds prefer to build their nests utilizing outside grass fibers, leaf fragments, and bark, and then utilize spider webs to secure and maintain the structure of the nest.

The female constructs a nest that is suspended from a single, long, thin branch.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Particularly while defending “their” feeders, Broad-billed hummingbirds come across as the meanest sheriff in the community due to their intense territoriality.

They will engage in territorial conflicts to defend nectar sources that are home to blooming plants that attract hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Two Broad billed 1 Anthony Lujan
2 Male Broad-Billed Hummingbirds
Photo by: Anthony Lujan

Surprisingly, the Broad-billed hummingbird has demonstrated a real overall population growth in recent years, in contrast to other hummingbird population surveys.

The future of the Broad-billed hummingbird, like many wildlife species, depends on the preservation of their habitats and understanding the impacts of environmental changes. Conservation efforts and responsible practices in gardening and feeder maintenance can aid in their survival.

When the oldest male Broad-billed hummingbird was caught and released in Arizona during a banding operation, he was 9 years and 1 month old.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

California Hummingbirds That Are Rare/Vagrant

There are seven California hummingbirds classified as rare or vagrant hummingbirds. They are the Broad-tailed, Ruby-throated, Violet-crowned, Rivoli’s, Xantus’s, Blue-throated Mountain-gem, and Mexican Violetear hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds that live in a group outside of their typical geographic range are classified as belonging to this category.

These hummingbird species not only span a vast range of distinct geographic areas, but they are also known to occasionally interbreed, giving rise to hybrids.

Although they are not in their usual range, reports of seeing these hummingbirds in California have been made.

BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD – (Selsaphoris platycercus)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selsaphoris
Species: S. platycercus

The scientific name of the Broad-tailed hummingbird is Selasphorus platycercus. This species got its common name from the notably broad tail of the males, which is a distinguishing feature among hummingbirds. 

This broad tail, when combined with the hummingbird’s flight patterns, creates a distinctive trilling sound that is also a characteristic of the species. The combination of visual and auditory traits played a significant role in the naming of this bird.

Male Broad-tailed hummingbirds:
An iridescent ruby-red gorget is seen on male Broad-tailed hummingbirds. 

Males and females alike, the Broad-tailed hummingbird is characterized by its green upperparts, light underbelly, vivid white eye rings, and widely rounded tails.

They have a medium build, measure from 3.3 and 3.8 inches in length, and weigh 3.6 grams.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Broad tailed bird.whisperer UT
Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: bird.whisperer

Female Broad-tailed hummingbirds:
The female Broad-tailed hummingbird is less colorful than the male and lacks a gorget and iridescent feathers.

Their underbellies are pale to beige, with vivid white eye rings and broadly rounded tails.
Their topsides are green, extending from the head to the tail.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Female Broad tailed 1 hummingbirdsbysuprise AZ
Female Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise
Broad tailed Female ID
Female Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpa_male

Juvenile Broad-tailed hummingbirds:
Male and female juvenile Broad-tailed hummingbirds initially resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the iridescent feathers that are characteristic of this species of hummingbird.

0.02% of all California’s hummingbird sightings will be Broad-tailed hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 2 will be the Broad-tailed hummingbird.

The Broad-tailed hummingbird travels frequently to the United States near the southern Mexican border.

They have a migrant and non-migrant population that begins in the south of Mexico. The ones that migrate north to breed will do so during spring migration and will pass through Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and reach as far north as Montana. 

Once the breeding season is complete, Broad-tailed hummingbirds will depart and begin their southbound fall migration to winter in Mexico and meet up with their non-migrant population.

The Broad-tailed hummingbird favors habitats in the understory of mature forest woodlands such as pine and oak groves. They chose to nest on the branches of trees and have been known to return to the same nesting ground each year, roughly 70% of the time.

Their breeding time coincides with the peak time of flowering native plants for maximum food resource availability. Their favorite nectar-producing flower plants include Red Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, Sage varieties, Currants, and Scarlet Mint.

In terms of social behavior, Broad-tailed hummingbirds are generally solitary, especially outside of the breeding season. They can be territorial, with males often defending prime feeding territories from other hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

The Broad-tailed hummingbird has suffered a decline in population since the 1990s, but presently, its population is stable, and it has been shown to have adapted to human habitat encroachment.

Broad-tailed hummingbirds hybridize and readily crossbreed with other hummingbird species, such as the Costa’s hummingbird.

The oldest living Broad-tailed hummingbird, a female, was 12 years and 2 months, recorded during a capture and release banding operation in Colorado.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds:

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD – (Archilochus colubris)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Archilochus
Species: A. colubris

Scientist Carl Linnaeus of Sweden is credited with giving the Ruby-throated hummingbird its scientific name. He initially classified the species as “Trochilus colubris.” 

Its name was revised more than a century later when German botanist Ludwig Reichenbach classed it as “Archilochus colubris,” which is now its scientific name and means “sky spirit/sun-god bird” or “top thief.”

MaleRuby-throated hummingbirds:
The beautiful iridescent blood-red gorget of male Ruby-throated hummingbirds ends at the neck.
His distinctive features are black wings, a light gray underbelly, and a dull metallic green topside.

Male Ruby throated 2 mz13hummingbirds
Adult Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo by: mz13hummingbirds

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is a tiny species of hummingbird, measuring 2.8 to 3.3 inches in length and weighing less than 4.5 grams, or two U.S. dimes.
They live for three to five years on average. 

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Male Ruby throat 1 OHIO
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar
Male Ruby 3 TN
Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: paulapaintsart

Female Ruby-throated hummingbirds:
Ruby-throated hummingbird females are usually larger than males, with a white throat stippled with light spots.

Female Ruby throat 3
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Dgen.photos

Note: The pollen on her head and beak. This female Ruby-throated hummingbird has been busy pollinating and drinking nectar from flowers to sustain her high metabolism.

Ruby-throated hummingbird’s life expectancy is roughly three to five years.
The oldest female Ruby-throated hummingbird on record, at nine years old, is nearly twice as old as the male life expectancy.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Female Ruby 1 TN
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Paula Leftwich

Juvenile Ruby-throated hummingbirds:
Ruby-throated hummingbird juveniles, both male and female, have a white throat with faint stippling, just like their mother. 

As the males become older, they start to show some color around their necks, and finally their stronger red throat feathers take center stage and proudly show off a vibrant gorget.

Juv Male Ruby 1 FL
Juvenile Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Dgen.photos

Note: The throat feathers are slowly coming in, displaying a few dots of color near the neckline and showing the first stages of adolescence.

Juv Male Ruby throated 1 MN WITH BEE
Juvenile Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: MaryLou Ziebarth

Note: This juvenile Ruby-throated hummingbird is struggling with a bee or wasp situation at the feeder.
See my article: Bees On My Hummingbird Feeder: (9 Tips To Get Rid of Them)

Baby Ruby-throated hummingbirds:
Baby Ruby-throated hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Juv Baby Ruby throated 2 OHIO
Baby Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

Note: The down feathers near the baby’s bottom are newly white and fluffy.
Observe the great fat reserves they have amassed from the feedings of their devoted mother’s, which will help them get through puberty.

Baby Ruby throated 1 mz13hummingbirds
Baby Ruby-Throated Hummingbird 
Photo by: Mz13hummingbirds

0.01% of all California hummingbird sightings will be Ruby-throated hummingbirds.
On average, out of 15,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 1 will be the Ruby-throated hummingbird.”

The majority of people are unaware of how tolerant hummingbirds are of chilly weather.

According to eBird.org, through branding practices in Wisconsin, the Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds have been documented surviving in temperatures of -9F and wind chills of -36F.
Read my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

To provide the many hummingbirds that spend the winter in California access to life-sustaining nectar, several California hummingbird enthusiasts keep their hummingbird feeders up all winter long.

This altruistic deed also supplies nectar to other migrating species that are too injured or elderly to travel.
Read my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is a common sight in parks, gardens, and backyards. It prefers open forests. Except for the breeding season, when they become ferociously territorial and hostile against hummingbirds of other species, they are solitary birds.

Despite their aggressive nature, these hummingbirds are eaten by predators like dragonflies, big crustaceans, praying mantises, and orb-weaver spiders.
Read my article: 10 Common Things That Kill Hummingbirds

Nine years and one month was the oldest known living female Ruby-throated hummingbird, found during a capture and release banding operation in West Virginia.
Read my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Violet-crowned Hummingbirds:

VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD – (Amazilia voliceps)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Amazilia
Species: A. voliceps

The scientific name of the Violet-crowned hummingbird is Amazilia violiceps

The origin of its common name comes from its distinctive vivid purple crown on its head (head feather cap), which gives them their name and is easily noticeable, differentiating it from other hummingbird species. 

This vibrant crown is the source of both the common and scientific names, with “violiceps” in Latin roughly translating to “violet-headed.” 

This naming convention, where a prominent physical feature of the species is reflected in its name, is common in ornithology and helps in the easy identification and classification of the bird species.

Male Violet-crowned hummingbirds:
Male Violet-crowned hummingbirds are recognized by their iridescent violet or purple crown, or cap, made of head feathers.

They have a white underbelly that stretches the entire length of their body, covering the bottom of their beak, and a gray-green pattern on their back that resembles fish scales.

Their length ranges from 3 to 3.9 inches, and they weigh about 5 grams.

The Violet-crowned hummingbird lacks the iridescent gorget and ear patch patterns found on most other hummingbirds.

Violet Crowned Rekhapawar AZ
Male Violet-crown hummingbird.
Photo by: Rekha Pawar
Male Violet crowned 1 thehummingbirdguy
Male Violet-crown hummingbird.
Photo by: TheHummingbirdGuy

Female Violet-crowned hummingbirds:
Unlike the male, the female Violet-crowned hummingbird lacks the vibrant violet crown.
She has a more subdued color palette, featuring a pale gray or whitish throat and underparts.

Her upperparts are a duller green compared to the male, providing camouflage among foliage to protect the nest’s discovery by predators.

The tail is typically dark, and fanned out during flight, aiding in quick and agile maneuvers.
Read my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Juvenile Violet-crowned hummingbirds:
Both male and female juvenile Violet-crowned hummingbirds initially resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the iridescent feathers that are characteristic of this species of hummingbird.

Baby Violet-crowned hummingbirds:
Baby Violet-crowned hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

On average, out of 40,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 1 will be the Violet-crowned hummingbird.

The native range of Violet-crowned hummingbirds stretches from the southwest of the United States to western Mexico. They are found in wooded regions close to rivers since they like riparian habitats. 

These habitats are rich in flowering plants, which are essential to their diet of nectar. They are also found in open forests and, rarely, in flower-rich suburban gardens.

The Violet-crowned hummingbird used to migrate between the southwest region of the United States and Mexico. However, their migratory patterns have undergone a noticeable change.

These hummingbirds are spending more time overwintering in the southern United States, and when they migrate north, their habitat range is progressively expanding yearly. 

The availability of food sources in these new places and climate change are two possible causes of this development.

In terms of social behavior, Violet-crowned hummingbirds are generally solitary, especially outside of the breeding season. They can be territorial, with males often defending prime feeding territories from other hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

In Arizona, a capture and release banding operation resulted in the oldest Violet-crowned hummingbird ever reported to be 6 years and 1 month old.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Rivoli’s Hummingbirds:

RIVOLI’S HUMMINGBIRD aka MAGNIFICENT – (Eugenes fulgens)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Eugenes
Species: E. fulgens

The scientific name for the Rivoli’s hummingbird is Eugenes fulgens. This species was formerly known as the Magnificent hummingbird, a term that perfectly captures its incredible grace and size.

The birding enthusiast Victor Massena, the Duke of Rivoli, was honored with the renaming of the Rivoli’s hummingbird. The common name “Rivoli’s hummingbird” was changed to recognize his contributions to ornithology and his love of bird research. 

This renaming is a part of a larger trend in ornithology, which is a move away from descriptive names and toward names that recognize and honor notable figures in the discipline.

Whatever name it goes by, the Rivoli’s hummingbird is still a species of curiosity and beauty.

Male Rivoli’s hummingbirds:
Unless they are in direct daylight, the violet crown, vivid blue-green gorget, and white eyespots of male Rivoli’s hummingbirds become more noticeable due to iridescence.

They weigh 6–10 grams and range in length from 4.3 to 5.5 inches.

Rivolis Rekhapawar AZ
Male Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

Rivoli’s hummingbirds are thought to be the second largest hummingbird in the United States, with the Blue-throated Mountain-gem being the largest.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Female Rivoli’s hummingbirds:
The female’s more subdued coloration plays a crucial role in camouflage, especially during nesting, when they need to stay hidden from predators while incubating eggs and raising their young.

Female Rivoli HummbySuprise AZ
Female Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Hummingbirdsbysuprise

Unlike the iridescent emerald or blue-green seen in males, the females tend to have a more muted, olive or bronze-green hue. 

The throat and chest of the female is pale gray or whitish, lacking the brilliant metallic colors seen in males. This area might have some speckles or mottled patterns.

Female Rivoli’s hummingbirds are generally similar in size to the males but can be slightly smaller.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Juvenile Rivoli’s hummingbirds:
Both male and female juvenile Rivoli’s hummingbirds resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the distinctive violet crown, vivid blue-green gorget, and white eyespots of this species.

Male Rivoli 2 Anthony Lujan
Male Juvenile Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Anthony Lujan

Baby Rivoli’s hummingbirds:
Baby Rivoli’s hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Juv Male Rivolis...humm guy
Male Baby Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Photo by: thehummingbirdguy

Note: The small patch of white fluffy feathers near his bottom, which is easily missed!

On average, out of 100,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 1 will be the Rivoli’s hummingbird.

Rivoli’s hummingbirds are found in mountainous regions ranging from the southwestern United States through Mexico and into Central America. Their range extends as far south as Nicaragua.

Rivoli’s love to dwell in ravines; they nest in trees that hang over streams and creeks, and they graze in open meadows. 

They construct their nests in evergreen coniferous trees like juniper, pine, and fir as part of their breeding habitat.

In terms of social behavior, Rivoli’s hummingbirds are generally solitary, especially outside of the breeding season. They can be territorial, with males often defending prime feeding territories from other hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

They are often seen at elevations ranging from 6,500 to 9,800 feet. Their preference for high-elevation habitats and dense forests makes Rivoli’s hummingbirds challenging to study and observe in the wild.

Though rare, hybridization between Rivoli’s hummingbirds and Berylline, Broad-billed, Blue-throated Mountain-gem, and Violet-crowned hummingbirds occurs.

The oldest known male Rivoli’s hummingbird was 11 years and 2 months old when he was captured and released during a banding expedition in Arizona.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Xantus’s Hummingbirds:

XANTUS’S HUMMINGBIRD – (Basilinna xantusii)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Basilinna
Species: B. xantusii

The Xantus’s hummingbird, scientifically known as Basilinna xantusii, gets its common name after Hungarian zoologist John Xantus de Vesey, who collected the first specimen in the mid-19th century.

Male Xantus’s hummingbirds:
Native to the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico, male Xantus’s hummingbirds exhibit vibrant plumage, with males displaying iridescent green or blue-green feathers on their backs and crowns, complemented by white or light-colored throat and underparts. 

Their wings shimmer with hues of bronze, adding to their overall brilliance.

In terms of size, Xantus’s hummingbirds are relatively small.  They weigh between 2 to 4 grams and have lengths ranging from 3.5 to 4 inches.

Despite their diminutive stature, they possess remarkable agility and speed, enabling them to perform intricate aerial maneuvers as they dart from flower to flower in search of nectar.

Female Xantus’s hummingbirds:
Female Xantus’s hummingbirds have more muted colors, often with a hint of cinnamon or rusty tones, and are not as brilliant as the males. 

The throat and underparts are usually whitish or buff-colored. They are identified by the faint white line that usually covers each eye.

Female Xantus’s hummingbirds raise their young with no help from the males.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Juvenile Xantus’s hummingbirds:
Juvenile Xantus’s hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire a throat patch.

Their feathers may appear duller or less colorful, lacking the intense hues seen in mature individuals. The throat patch, or gorget, may be less pronounced or absent altogether.

Juvenile Xantus’s hummingbirds exhibit behaviors typical of learning and gaining independence. They spend more time observing and learning from adult birds, gradually developing their foraging and flight skills.

Baby Xantus’s hummingbirds:
Baby Xantus’s hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

On average, out of 165,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 1 will be the Xantus’s hummingbird.

One notable aspect of Xantus’s hummingbirds is their specialized bill, which is long and slender, perfectly adapted for probing deep into tubular flowers to access nectar. This unique adaptation allows them to feed on a wide variety of floral resources, contributing to their ecological importance as pollinators.

Xantus’s hummingbirds are also known for their distinctive vocalizations, emitting high-pitched chirps and trills during courtship displays or territorial defense. These vocalizations, combined with their dazzling plumage and acrobatic flight, make them a delight to observe in their natural habitat.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

The first record of a male Xantus’s hummingbird was documented from southern California in San Diego on December 27, 1986 and a female that twice attempted to breed from Ventura, in Ventura County, from January 30– March 27, 1988.
She migrated further north of Ventura California and was able to build a nest and lay her eggs successfully, but unfortunately they were unable to hatch even with all of her hard work and determination. 

Despite their beauty and charisma, Xantus’s hummingbirds face threats from habitat loss, climate change, and competition from invasive species. Conservation efforts are crucial to safeguarding these enchanting birds and preserving their role in the delicate ecosystems they inhabit.

They play a significant ecological role as pollinators and are important components of the ecosystems in which they reside. Conservation efforts are vital to ensuring the survival of this species in the face of various threats to its habitat and well-being.

Xantus’s hummingbirds are a hummingbird species primarily found in Baja California, but occasionally turn up as “vagrants” when they wander from their breeding grounds into Southern California and the Pacific coastline. This makes them a rare treat for birdwatchers in California who are able to catch a glimpse of a Xantus’s hummingbird in their yard. 

Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem Hummingbirds:

BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM HUMMINGBIRD aka BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD – (Lampornis clemenciae)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Lampornis
Species: L. clemenciae

The Blue-throated Mountain-gem, scientifically named Lampornis clemenciae, is a species of hummingbird named for its distinctive blue throat patch, most prominently seen in males. This feature is the origin of its common name. 

Prior to 2019 the Blue-throated Mountain-gem was known simply as the Blue-throated hummingbird but was renamed to the Blue-throated Mountain-gem to better identify it as a member of the genus Lampornis.

Male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds:
Male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds have striking white stripes across both of their eyes and a vivid, iridescent cobalt blue gorget.

Male Blue Throated MT Gem 1 AZ
Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

His tail tips are painted white, and his wings and tail are also dark. The entire body of the Blue-throated Mountain-gem is drab greenish-gray, with additional patches of grayish-emerald green on the head, neck, and upper portion of the shoulder where the wing connects.

They weigh between 8.1 and 8.6 grams and have a length of 4.3 to 4.7 inches.

The metal plate that shields the wearer’s throat during combat to prevent injuries is the inspiration behind the name of the gorget on a male hummingbird.

This name is acceptable and fitting to characterize the physical characteristics of male hummingbirds, since they fight fiercely for their own territory.
Read my article: Hummingbird Gorgets Explained

Male Blue Throated MT Gem 2 AZ
Male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird.
Photo by: Rekh Pawar

Female Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds:
Compared to their male counterparts, female Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds tend to have duller appearances and lack the characteristic blue throat feathers that glisten in the sunlight. They have gray underparts and a double white stripe on their face.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Juvenile Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds:
Male and female juvenile Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds initially resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the iridescent feathers that are characteristic of this species of hummingbird.

Juv Blue throated MT Gem 1 Anthony Lujan
Juvenile Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem Hummingbird
Photo by: Anthony Lujan

Baby Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds:
Baby Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

On average, out of 200,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 1 will be the Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird.

One of the bigger hummingbird species in North America, the Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird is distinguished by its comparatively large size.

The Cornell Lab reports that Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds weigh three times as much as Ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds have the slowest reported wingbeat rate of any known hummingbird, in part due to their size. A hummingbird with a longer wingspan can flap its wings in a figure-eight pattern far more forcefully than a smaller, more delicate hummingbird. 

Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird is the largest hummingbird species known to nest in the United States

The Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird likes building their nests atop human residential structures or on overhanging rocks. They are known to build new nests on top of older nests to resemble a tall tower and that they return to the same nest every year.

Before mating, the majority of hummingbirds in North America perform a courtship dance to attract females and grab their attention.

The exception to this is that male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds do not do an aerial display. The females, on the other hand, indicate to the male that she has selected him and is prepared for copulation with a recognizable call and a series of brief flights.

These birds range from the southwestern United States through Mexico and into Central America, where they live in mountain woodlands and margins, especially in pine-oak forests.

The Chisos Mountains in Texas or the “sky island” mountain ranges in southeast Arizona are some of the best places to find and identify Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds.Like most hummingbirds, Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds become territorial and hostile for flower varieties with a greater sugar content, and they will fight back against intruders.

Because of their size, which requires them to consume a lot of insects for sustenance, they devour more insects than any other species of hummingbird.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds hybridize with other hummingbird species holding little to no judgment on choosing a larger species, such as the Rivoli’s hummingbird or a smaller species, the Anna’s, Black-chinned, and Costa’s hummingbirds with which to procreate.

The oldest male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird known to science is 7 years and 11 months old. He was captured and released during an Arizona banding operation.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Mexican Violetear Hummingbirds:

MEXICAN VIOLETEAR (aka GREEN VIOLETEAR) HUMMINGBIRD – (Colibri thalassinus)  

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Colibri
Species: C. thalassinus

Scientifically speaking, the Mexican Violetear is a species of hummingbird, Colibri thalassinus.
Thalassinus is a Latin term meaning “color of the sea.” 


The characteristic violet patch of feathers on the sides of this hummingbird’s head, which mimics an ear, gave rise to its popular name. 

The “violetear” description is accurate and vivid because of this bright patch that stands out against the bird’s otherwise green plumage.

Male Mexican Violetearhummingbirds:
The term “violet-ears” refers to the iridescent green color of male Mexican Violetear hummingbirds, which have brilliant violet ear patches on either side of their neck.

This hummingbird has metallic blue-green tail feathers with a black band underneath the bronze tail feathers in the center.
They weigh between 5 and 6 grams and have lengths ranging from 3.8 to 4.7 inches.

Male Mexican violetear 1 Ernesto Perez
Male Mexican Violetear
Photo by: Ernesto Perez

Female Mexican Violetear hummingbirds:
Females typically have a less vibrant coloration compared to males. They have a primarily green plumage, which can appear as a dull green or blue-green. The green is iridescent and may shine with different intensities and hues in various lighting conditions.

The violet ear patches are present in females but are often less pronounced than in males.
The underparts of the female are typically a duller green compared to the males, and they may have some grayish or whitish markings.

The tail is typically dark, forked, and has some blue or green iridescence. It is usually less spectacular than that of the male.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

Juvenile Mexican Violetear hummingbirds:
Male and female Mexican Violetear hummingbirds in their juvenile years resemble adult females until the male starts to develop the characteristic iridescent violet ear patches on either side of his neck.

Baby Mexican Violetear hummingbirds:
Baby Mexican Violetear hummingbirds are easily identified by their undertail coverts, which are white fluffy feathers near their bottom that will disappear as they age.
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

On average, out of 650,000 hummingbird sightings in California, only 1 will be the Mexican Violetear hummingbird.

From Mexico to Nicaragua, these hummingbird species are found on the outskirts of cloud forests, where they thrive in an environment with high levels of tropical humidity. It is common to see this dark hummingbird at forest margins and clearings.

Mexican Violetear hummingbirds are semi-nomadic. Since they have not been thoroughly examined, scientists know very little about their migration patterns.

However, based on available data, the Mexican Violetear is primarily distributed in northern South America, middle Mexico, and middle America.  

Although Mexican Violetear hummingbirds are typically permanent residents of their natural habitat, a few individuals have strayed and ventured as far north as Wisconsin, Michigan, and even Canada. 

Much like a lot of other hummingbird species, the Mexican Violetear hummingbird nests alone. Although they do not feed in flocks, these hummingbirds are observed in groups around flowering trees, such as the coffee-shading Inga tree, where they scavenge for nectar and insects.

In terms of social behavior, Mexican Violetear hummingbirds are generally solitary, especially outside of the breeding season. They can be territorial, with males often defending prime feeding territories from other hummingbirds.
See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

The oldest known Mexican Violetear hummingbird was documented to be at least 11 years and 2 months old. 

This information is based on banding records, where birds are captured, banded with a unique identification ring, and then potentially recaptured or found in the future. 

The age of this particular Mexican Violetear was determined by the length of time between its initial banding and its last documented recapture or sighting.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Read my article:
Hummingbird Migration in California

For more information about hummingbirds, read my other hummingbird articles.

Elizabeth Donaldson

Hi Everyone! I have always loved our backyard and have been fascinated with all the wildlife living there. I am especially amazed by the skill, strength, and beauty of hummingbirds. I hope this article answered your questions.

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