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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Lucifer Hummingbird

Calothorax lucifer ORDER: APODIFORMES FAMILY: TROCHILIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The tiny, vividly purple-throated Lucifer Hummingbird is mainly a species of northern Mexico and central Mexico. Where it reaches the United States, in extreme southern Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas, it's a highly sought-after species among avid birders. Lucifer Hummingbird belongs to a group of hummingbird species called “sheartails,” named for their deeply forked, narrow tail.

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Keys to identification Help

Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    The Lucifer Hummingbird's most distinctive features are its curved bill and narrow, forked tail. The large head and heavy, downcurved bill seemingly overbalance this bird's small, tapered body. The tail is very long and narrow, extending well beyond the wingtips.

  • Color Pattern

    Adult males have a green back with a purple gorget that looks dark when it’s not catching the light. The breast is dingy and whitish. Females are warm buffy below with green backs. Their cinnamon wash is particularly intense on the breast and throat. Overall, females are buffier below than other similar species of hummingbirds. Immature males show a few spots of purple on the throat in the late summer.

  • Behavior

    Lucifer Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of flowering desert plants and sugar solution in hummingbird feeders. They are particularly fond of agave flowers when they are available. They will come into feeders, but they have a low rank among the other species and are often chased off by other hummers.

  • Habitat

    Look for Lucifer Hummingbirds in dry canyons and hillsides of desert habitats with ocotillo and century plant. Lucifer Hummingbirds are most frequently sighted in the summer in Ash Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, southeast Arizona, or near Portal, Arizona. The species also breeds in Texas, in Big Bend National Park and in the Davis Mountains. Your best bet for finding one on your own is to watch flowering agaves in Big Bend National Park.

Range Map Help

Lucifer Hummingbird Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult male

    Lucifer Hummingbird

    Adult male
    • Decurved bill
    • Long, purple gorget
    • Forked tail
    • © hanktheelder, Sierra Vista, Arizona, April 2010
  • Adult female

    Lucifer Hummingbird

    Adult female
    • Decurved bill
    • Buffy eyebrow and flanks
    • © Andy Johnson, Box Canyon, Sierra Vista, Arizona, July 2009

Similar Species

  • Adult male

    Black-chinned Hummingbird

    Adult male
    • Similar to adult male Lucifer Hummingbird
    • Straight bill
    • Abbreviated, clean-cut purple gorget
    • © Sam Wilson, Phoenix, Arizona, June 2007
  • Adult male

    Costa's Hummingbird

    Adult male
    • Similar to adult male Lucifer Hummingbird
    • Straight bill
    • Purple feathers extend above bill to top of head
    • Short tail
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Imperial County, California, July 2000
  • Adult female

    Rufous Hummingbird

    Adult female
    • Similar to adult female Lucifer Hummingbird
    • White throat
    • Straight bill
    • No noticeable eyebrow
    • © Sam Wilson, Scottsdale, Arizona, August 2007
  • Adult female

    Broad-tailed Hummingbird

    Adult female
    • Similar to adult female Lucifer Hummingbird
    • Straight bill
    • Plain white throat
    • No buff on face
    • © Danny Bales, January 2010

Similar Species

Lucifer Hummingbird is a distinctive hummingbird due to its decurved bill and deeply forked tail. Males are most similar to Black-chinned Hummingbird, but the Black-chinned has a less extensive, clean-cut gorget and lacks a truly decurved bill. The male Lucifer's gorget color is most similar to Costa’s Hummingbird, but Costa’s is heavier-bodied, has purple feathers on top of the head, and lacks the Lucifer's long, narrow tail. Among female hummingbirds, the Lucifer has a brighter buffy breast and throat than other species. The warm buffy tones of female Rufous, Allen’s, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are concentrated more toward the undertail than the throat.

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