Rivoli's Hummingbird Life History


Habitat ForestsThese birds are most frequently found in dry pine-oak forests at elevations between 5,000 and 9.000 feet. During the breeding season they live in riparian habitats in the ravines of small mountain ranges of southern Arizona and New Mexico—nests are often constructed high in trees overhanging streams. They feed in open areas where their preferred flowers are abundant. Bird feeders may entice them to lower altitudes.Back to top


Food NectarRivoli's Hummingbirds consume nectar, and their long bills allow them access to the nectar of certain flowers inaccessible to shorter-billed hummingbirds. They catch small insects in the air or glean their prey from foliage. Some evidence suggests that they are more insectivorous than other species of hummingbirds. These birds may consume over 13 meals per hour. Hummingbird feeders appear to have allowed them to expand their range, and males may visit feeders more regularly than females. Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest ShrubThe nest is an open cup lined with soft downy feathers and mosses. The exterior is covered with lichen, bark, and even seeds, all bound together in spider silk. The nest measures 2.2 inches wide and 1.8m inches deep. The inner cup is 1.4 inches wide and about 1 inch deep.

Nest Description

Nests are placed 6 to 10 feet from the trunk of a tree on a horizontal branch, and at least 19 to 20 feet above the ground. Nests may be placed above streams.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2 eggs
Egg Length:0.6-0.7 in (1.4-1.7 cm)
Egg Width:0.3-0.4 in (0.9-1.1 cm)
Incubation Period:15-19 days
Egg Description:White, smooth-surfaced, tiny oval eggs weighing less than a gram.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless and naked.
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Behavior HoveringMales may be highly territorial in some areas and nonterritorial in others, depending on food availability. These birds are “trapliners,” cycling among widely scattered flowers to feed. They are typically subordinate to Blue-throated Hummingbirds. Like other hummingbirds, they go into torpor at night to conserve energy. Wingbeat frequency is about 22 beats per second while hovering. Incubation is by females only.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernThere is little information on Rivoli's Hummingbird population trends. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 2 million for the "Magnificent" Hummingbird, which was split into Rivoli's and Talamanca Hummingbirds in 2017. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Scale. Rivoli's Hummingbird is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. These birds' restricted range in higher elevations of small isolated mountain ranges in the U.S. mean that forest fires can severely restrict habitat availability. Hummingbird feeders allow unnaturally large populations to be maintained in certain areas when natural food flowers are scarce. Habitat destruction in Mexico may put populations at risk.Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

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.

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

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