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Allen's Hummingbird

Selasphorus sasin ORDER: CAPRIMULGIFORMES FAMILY: TROCHILIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

In early spring, a narrow strip of scrub and chaparral along the Pacific Coast starts buzzing with the sights and sounds of the coppery and green Allen's Hummingbird. Males flash their brilliant reddish orange throat and put on an elaborate show for the females, swinging in pendulous arcs before climbing high into the sky and diving back down with a sharp squeal made by their tails. These early migrants mostly spend the winter in Mexico, but some stay in southern California year-round.

Calls

Males and females frequently give a sharp tick while feeding. If another hummingbird tries to intrude on a male's territory, he gives a quick 3-parted tinkling buzz from his perch. Females make the same sound in response to a displaying male.

Other

Adult male Allen's Hummingbirds make a buzzing, bumblebee-like sound with their outer flight feathers. They often do this in flight, while shuttling side to side in front of a female or other bird in their territory. They also produce stuttering series of buzzes with their wings particularly during the pendulum display (see Behavior). During the dive display, they make a high-pitched fading squeal with their tail feathers for about 1 second as they descend to ground level.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

If you live within the range of the Allen’s Hummingbird, putting up a sugar water feeder may give you an opportunity to watch one in your yard. Use a ratio of one-part table sugar dissolved in four parts water, and don’t use food coloring. Learn more about feeding hummingbirds.

Adding flowers to your yard is another way to attract hummingbirds while also adding beauty to your yard. Learn more about creating a hummingbird garden at Habitat Network.

Find This Bird

When the earliest signs of spring are just starting to show up along the West Coast, it's time to look for Allen's Hummingbirds. They arrive in coastal scrub and chaparral as early as January and start displaying shortly thereafter, which makes them easier to find. Check the tops of shrubs for a male surveying his territory, or listen for the bumblebee sounds and sharp squeals of his display flight. Checking out hummingbird feeders, especially during migration, is another good way to spot an Allen's Hummingbird.

Get Involved

Join Project FeederWatch and help us learn more about Allen's Hummingbirds that visit your feeders. Learn more and sign up at Project FeederWatch.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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