Living Bird Magazine
Black-chinned HummingbirdArchilochus alexandri
- ORDER: Caprimulgiformes
- FAMILY: Trochilidae
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.More ID Info
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.
- Colibrí Gorjinegro (Spanish)
- Colibri à gorge noire (French)
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 out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- As with most hummingbirds, females average larger than males, and young birds average larger than their parents.
- Along good stretches of some southern Arizona and southern New Mexico rivers, nests may be found every 100 meters or so.
- This is one of the most adaptable of all hummingbirds, often found in urban areas and recently disturbed habitat as well as pristine natural areas.
- During migration, individuals rarely remain longer than one day at a feeder even when food is scarce.
- The Black-chinned Hummingbird’s tongue has two grooves; nectar moves through these via capillary action, and then the bird retracts the tongue and squeezes the nectar into the mouth. It extends the tongue through the nearly closed bill at a rate of about 13–17 licks per second, and consumes an average of 0.61 milliliters (about a fifth of a fluid ounce) in a single meal. In cold weather, may eat three times its body weight in nectar in one day. They can survive without nectar when insects are plentiful.
- Black-chinned Hummingbirds aren’t so much drawn to red as they are to the colors of recent nectar sources.
- At rest, heart beats an average of 480 beats per minute. On cold nights they go into torpor, and the heart rate drops to 45–180 beats per minute. Breathing rate when resting is 245 breaths per minute at 91 degrees Fahrenheit; this rises to 420 breaths per minute when temperature drops to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Torpid hummingbirds breathe sporadically.
- A Black-chinned Hummingbird’s eggs are about the size of a coffee bean. The nest, made of plant down and spider and insect silk, expands as the babies grow.
- The oldest known Black-chinned Hummingbird was a female, at least 11 years, 2 months, when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Texas.