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Costa's Hummingbird

Calypte costae ORDER: CAPRIMULGIFORMES FAMILY: TROCHILIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Bright purple feathers drape across the throat of male Costa's Hummingbirds, sticking out wildly to each side, like an overgrown mustache. Males show off their purple colors for females, which are dressed in green with a pale eyebrow and a whitish belly. The male loops around her and dives in broad U-shaped patterns while give a high-pithced whistle. These hummingbirds are at home in the baking heat of the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts as well as in the cooler air of coastal scrub.

Songs

Males sing a thin, high-pitched whistle when perched and when performing a looping dive. From a perch, a male whistles 4 short and thin notes less than 1 second long. During his looping dive, his whistle rises and falls in pitch for about 2.5 seconds.

Calls

  • Calls, wings
     
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Females call with a sharp, dry tic when foraging or flying, but males rarely call. They call singly or give a series of tics.

Other Sounds

Males make gentle humming noises with their wings during their looping dive display.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Putting up a sugar water feeder may give you an opportunity to watch a Costa's 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.

Find This Bird

Finding a Costa's Hummingbird means taking a trip to the Southwest. To catch them in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts you'll want to be there sometime from February to May, though they tend to stick around until June in the Mojave. Look for flowering ocotillo and chuparosa and listen for the high-pitched whistle of the male. The peak time to see them along coastal California is in May. Here you'll want to look for flowering sage and other shrubs. If you live in the Costa’s range, try putting out more than one hummingbird feeder in your yard. Place one of them off to the side to allow the shyer Costa's Hummingbird a chance to feed alongside larger or more aggressive species.

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