|Photo courtesy of Tom Grey|
Hummingbirds are the
smallest of birds, averaging 3”-4” in total length. All species feed while hovering at flowers to sip nectar. Their long needle-like bills are adapted for reaching deep into tubular flowers. Hummingbirds are often identified by their twittery calls or chattery “chase notes” produced while driving away intruders. The rapid wing beat of the birds produce a humming sound. The throat feathers of males (called a gorget) look black in dull light, but are iridescent and brightly colored when seen in sunlight. However, both male and female young resemble female adults.
- Male, head and throat a deep red-rose color, extending to side of neck. Underparts grayish, with varying amounts of green. Back and rump also metallic green. Female, throat white with red flecks. Back metallic green, underparts grayish with varying amounts of green, green tail tipped with white. Total length 4” (10 cm), largest of hummingbirds. Bill is proportionately short.
- Call is a sharp chick or zeezy-zeezy. Chase call a rapid dry rattling; song a jumble of high squeaks and raspy notes.
- Nectar of garden or wild flowers. May occasionally feed on sap and insects oozing from sapsucker holes.
- Nest is a small cup about 1 ¾” diameter in trees or shrubs. Made of mosses and lichen, lined with plant down. Two white eggs.
- Abundant in coastal lowlands and mountains; also in deserts. In woods, shrubs, gardens, parks.
- Common in southern CA; coastal lowlands and mountains of western US and southern AZ. Winters in deserts.
- Migrates from mountains to winter in the deserts. Some may linger if food sources are available, such as feeders.