Calliope Hummingbird

Silhouette HummingbirdsHummingbirds

Calliope Hummingbird

Selasphorus calliope
  • ORDER: Caprimulgiformes
  • FAMILY: Trochilidae
Basic Description

Magenta rays burst from the throats of the male Calliope Hummingbird as it dances and hovers, performing U-shaped display dives for females. During these displays he makes a sputtering buzz with tail feathers and gives a sharp zinging call. This is the smallest bird in the United States, yet this tiny hummingbird breeds in meadows and open forests high in chilly Northwestern mountains, and travels more than 5,000 miles each year to pine-oak forests in Mexico and back again.

More ID Info
image of range map for Calliope HummingbirdRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

One way to find a Calliope Hummingbird is to find its favorite perch on the breeding grounds. Most often their favorite perch is a bare branch sticking up out of a willow or alder. They habitually return to these perches, so look at the tops of these shrubs and you just might see a tiny bird perched atop. Another approach in summer is to listen for its zing as it dives in a U-shaped display flight in meadows and forest openings. Outside of the breeding season, their elliptical migration route means that in spring you are more likely to find them in coastal areas, while in the fall, they are more common in interior locations at higher elevations along the Rocky Mountains.

Other Names
  • Colibrí Calíope (Spanish)
  • Colibri calliope (French)

Backyard Tips

Putting up a sugar water feeder may give you an opportunity to watch a Calliope Hummingbird up close. 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.

  • Cool Facts