Living Bird Magazine
Allen's HummingbirdSelasphorus sasin
- ORDER: Caprimulgiformes
- FAMILY: Trochilidae
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.More ID Info
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.
- Colibrí de Allen (Spanish)
- Colibri d'Allen (French)
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.
- Cool Facts
- Male and female Allen's Hummingbirds use different habitats during the breeding season. The male sets up a territory overseeing open areas of coastal scrub or chaparral, where he perches conspicuously on exposed branches. The female visits these areas, but after mating she heads into thickets or forests to build a nest and raise the young.
- Allen's Hummingbirds breed in a narrow strip of habitat along coastal Oregon and California. But within their tiny range two subspecies occur. One (Selasphorus sasin sasin) migrates to a small area in Mexico for the winter while the other (S. s. sedentarius) stays put in southern California year-round.
- The Allen's Hummingbird is a remarkably early migrant compared with most North American birds. Northbound birds may depart their wintering grounds as early as December, arriving on their breeding grounds as early as January when winter rains produce an abundance of flowers.
- Like other birds, Allen's Hummingbirds use their feet to help control their body temperature. When it's cold outside they tuck their feet up against their bellies while flying, but when temperatures soar, they let their feet dangle to cool down.
- The oldest recorded Allen's Hummingbird was at least 5 years 11 months old when she was captured and rereleased in California during banding operations i 2009. She had been banded in the same state in 2004.