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Black-chinned Hummingbird Life History


Habitat Open WoodlandsIn the Southwest, most common in canyons and along rivers. In arid areas, most often found near cottonwood, sycamore, willow, salt-cedar, sugarberry, and oak. Birds wintering along Gulf very often spend time in shade of oaks.Back to top


Food NectarNectar from flowers, small insects and spiders, sugar water at feeders.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest TreeMost Black-chinned Hummingbird nests have been found an average of 6 feet and at most 12 feet above the ground, but this may be because nests at this height are easier for observers to find. The nest is often on an exposed small horizontal dead branch well below the canopy.

Nest Description

When newly built, the nest is a compact, deep cup constructed of plant down, spider silk and cocoon fibers. As the nestlings grow, the nest stretches into a wider, shallower cup. Nests from cooler areas are thicker-walled than nests from warmer areas.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:2 eggs
Number of Broods:1-3 broods
Egg Length:0.5-0.6 in (1.2-1.4 cm)
Egg Width:0.3 in (0.8 cm)
Incubation Period:12-16 days
Nestling Period:21 days
Egg Description:White.
Condition at Hatching:About one-quarter inch long, unfeathered except for two rows of sparse downy feathers along the back, eyes closed.
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Behavior HoveringAfter feeding may perch on high, bare branch for several minutes, surveying territory. Captures small insects in flight (or, in the case of spiders, while ballooning) or on flowers and even on the ground. May fly from perch to grab a single flying insect and then return to perch. May capture many insects in rapid succession in a swarm. Extracts nectar from flowers by extending tongue into the corolla while hovering. During courtship and territorial defense, males display by diving 66-100 feet.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernBlack-chinned Hummingbirds populations increased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 5 million, with 1% breeding in Canada, 86% spending some part of the year in the U.S., and 100% in Mexico. They rate an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and they are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Populations are increasing in some places owing to the popularity of hummingbird gardens and hummingbird feeders. In much of the arid West Black-chinned Hummingbirds depend on intact streamside habitats, so these areas are important to preserve.Back to top

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 out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

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Baltosser, William H. and Stephen M. Russell. (2000). Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2020). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2020. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2020.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (2014b). Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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