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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.

Keys to identification Help

Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    Costa's Hummingbirds are small and compact hummingbirds with a hunched posture. Their short tail barely meets their short wings when perched. The male's gorget (throat patch) flares out along the sides of the neck like an overgrown mustache.

  • Color Pattern

    Adult male Costa's Hummingbirds have an iridescent purple crown and gorget, a green back, and a green vest. Females and immatures are greenish above with a white eyebrow stripe and whitish underparts.

  • Behavior

    They drink nectar from many desert plants, especially chuparosa and ocotillo, and they snap up small flying insects in midair. Male Costa's Hummingbirds dive in a broad U-shaped pattern, while giving a high-pitched accelerating and decelerating whistle.

  • Habitat

    Costa’s Hummingbirds occur in desert scrub in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts, and chaparral and sage scrub areas in coastal California. During the nonbreeding season they use similar dry habitats as well as parks, gardens, and higher elevation mountains.

Range Map Help

Costa
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

Similar Species

Anna's Hummingbirds, are larger with a less hunched posture than Costa's Hummingbirds. When perched, the tail of Anna's Hummingbirds extends farther past the wings than it does on Costa's Hummingbirds. The gorget and crown on male Anna's Hummingbirds shines red rather than purple. Female and immature Anna's Hummingbirds have dingier grayish green bellies compared to the cleaner white bellies of Costa's Hummingbirds, and may have red feathers in the center of their throats. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are slightly larger than Costa's Hummingbirds with a more elongated posture and a longer bill. Male Black-chinned Hummingbirds have a green crown, a very dark purple throat that often looks black, and they don't have the overgrown mustache look of Costa's Hummingbirds. Female and immature Black-chinned Hummingbirds have a little bit of peachy color on their flanks that female and immature Costa's lack.

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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