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Allen's Hummingbird

Selasphorus sasin ORDER: CAPRIMULGIFORMES FAMILY: TROCHILIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

In early spring, a narrow strip of scrub and chaparral along the Pacific Coast starts buzzing with the sights and sounds of the coppery and green Allen's Hummingbird. Males flash their brilliant reddish orange throat and put on an elaborate show for the females, swinging in pendulous arcs before climbing high into the sky and diving back down with a sharp squeal made by their tails. These early migrants mostly spend the winter in Mexico, but some stay in southern California year-round.

Keys to identification Help

Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    Allen's Hummingbirds are small, compact, and stocky hummingbirds. The bill is straight and about as long as the head. The tail extends past the wings when perched and the outermost tail feather is narrower than the rest.

  • Color Pattern

    Allen's Hummingbirds coppery orange and green overall. Adult males have a coppery tail, eye patch, and belly that contrasts with their bronze-green back and deep reddish orange gorget. Females and immatures are bronze-green above with paler coppery sides. They both have bits of bronze spotting on their throats, though females have more spots and a small patch of reddish orange in the center of the throat.

  • Behavior

    Allen's Hummingbirds zip from flower to flower hovering above them to drink the nectar, ticking as they go. They also flycatch for insects or pluck them from vegetation. Males display by flying side to side or in wide arcs while emitting a bumblebee-like buzz with their wings

  • Habitat

    Allen's Hummingbirds breed in coastal forest, scrub, and chaparral along a narrow strip that stretches up the coast from California to southern Oregon.

Range Map Help

Allen
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

Similar Species

Rufous Hummingbirds are so similar to Allen's Hummingbirds that females and immatures are nearly indistinguishable in the field. Male Rufous Hummingbirds usually have an orange back and rump, but beware that some have a green back, like Allen’s. If you can, get a good look at the spread tail; the first outermost tail feathers are broad in Rufous Hummingbirds but narrow on Allen's Hummingbirds. Female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are slightly larger than Allen's Hummingbirds with a longer and broader tail. They also have less coppery coloring in the tail than Rufous Hummingbirds. Female Calliope Hummingbirds are smaller than Allen's Hummingbirds and their wingtips barely extend beyond the tail when perched. Female Calliopes also have a paler peachy wash on their sides than female Allen's.

Backyard Tips

If you live within the range of the Allen’s Hummingbird, putting up a sugar water feeder may give you an opportunity to watch one in your yard. 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

When the earliest signs of spring are just starting to show up along the West Coast, it's time to look for Allen's Hummingbirds. They arrive in coastal scrub and chaparral as early as January and start displaying shortly thereafter, which makes them easier to find. Check the tops of shrubs for a male surveying his territory, or listen for the bumblebee sounds and sharp squeals of his display flight. Checking out hummingbird feeders, especially during migration, is another good way to spot an Allen's Hummingbird.

Get Involved

Join Project FeederWatch and help us learn more about Allen's Hummingbirds that visit your feeders. Learn more and sign up at Project FeederWatch.

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