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Black-chinned Hummingbird

Archilochus alexandri ORDER: APODIFORMES FAMILY: TROCHILIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small green-backed hummingbird of the West, with no brilliant colors on its throat except a thin strip of iridescent purple bordering the black chin, only visible when light hits it just right. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are exceptionally widespread, found from deserts to mountain forests. Many winter along the Gulf Coast. Often perches at the very top of a bare branch. Low-pitched humming sound produced by wings.

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Be a Better Birder Tutorial 3

Songs

There are only two published accounts of Black-chinned Hummingbirds singing, both of males near Austin, Texas. These songs were described as “a sweet and low, though very high-pitched warble, like the sound produced as a result of whistling through the teeth.”

Calls

The Black-chinned Hummingbird has at least five different high-pitched chips and ticks. These are combined in various ways depending on the situation.

Other Sounds

Wings hum when in flight. A sound thought to be made by the wings during a male’s display dives has a somewhat higher pitch than the normal flight sound and may include pure, bell-like tones. It has only been recorded by diving birds, never when perched.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

It’s fairly easy to attract Black-chinned Hummingbirds to feeding stations. Make sugar water mixtures with about one-quarter cup of sugar per cup of water. Food coloring is unnecessary; table sugar is the best choice. Change the water before it grows cloudy or discolored and remember that during hot weather, sugar water ferments rapidly to produce toxic alcohol. During hot spells, change your hummingbird water daily or at most every two days. Your feeders will attract far more hummingbirds if you also grow appropriate flowers attractive to them.

Find This Bird

When birding in its range, listen for the distinctive humming wings and check out tiny bare branches at the tops of dead or live trees, where these birds often sit between feeding bouts. Black-chinned Hummingbirds can be very tricky to follow as they dart and weave among flowering shrubs and insect swarms, but after a feeding bout they very often return to a favorite perch.

Get Involved

Keep track of the Black-chinned Hummingbirds at your feeder with Project FeederWatch.

Look for Black-chinned Hummingbird nests and contribute valuable data about them through NestWatch.

Report your Black-chinned Hummingbird sightings to eBird.

Are you watching Black-chinned Hummingbirds in a city? Celebrate Urban Birds!

For recommendations about plants that attract Black-chinned Hummingbirds in desert habitats.

Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory conducts research and provides authoritative information about Southwestern hummingbirds.

The Nature Conservancy protects many areas that provide habitat for Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Perhaps the most popular is Ramsey Canyon in Southeastern Arizona.

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma is an easy place to see Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Find out more.

You Might Also Like

Information from Audubon At Home on how to help Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Information from the U.S. Geological Survey about Black-chinned Hummingbirds

For more information about hummingbirds in general: http://hummingbirds.net/

All About Birds blog, Flyways for Flyweights: Small Birds Capitalize on Weather Patterns During Epic Migrations, May 15, 2014.

All About Birds blog, Here’s What to Feed Your Summer Bird Feeder Visitors, July 11, 2014.

All About Birds blog, Summertime in the United States of Hummingbirds, July 29, 2014.