The calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America, but that doesn’t stop it from being a big thrill for birders. With brilliant coloring and a shy personality, this little bird is always a treat in the field or in the backyard.
- Bill: Short for a hummingbird, black, straight
- Size: 2.75-3 inches long with 4-5-inch wingspan, round body, short tail
- Colors: Magenta, green, white, black, buff
- Markings: Dimorphic species. Males have greenish upperparts with a magenta streaked throat in a V-pattern. The chest and abdomen are white with green speckles on the sides. Female birds also have a green back and head, and their white throat has faint speckles that may show red iridescence. Their white abdomens have a buff wash on the sides, and their dark tails have white tips on the outer feathers.
Insects, spiders, nectar, sap
Habitat and Migration:
Calliope hummingbirds are unusually hardy for their small size and they prefer coniferous forests and mountain meadow habitats. Their range extends through the northwestern United States including inland Washington, California and Oregon, Idaho, northern Nevada and southern British Columbia. These birds migrate and spend winters in central and southern Mexico.
Calliope hummingbirds are typically quite silent, but they do have high fast chirps and a rough buzz call that may be heard when the birds show aggression or irritation.
These solitary hummingbirds are easily intimidated and chased from food sources by larger hummingbirds. This gives them a quieter, more reserved personality than many hummingbird species, and they prefer to feed in low bushes and other inconspicuous areas.
Calliope hummingbirds are polygamous and the female birds are responsible for incubating the 2 eggs for 15-16 days. After hatching, the young birds stay in the nest for 19-22 days during which time they are cared for by the female bird. Calliope pairs produce 1-2 broods per year.
Attracting Calliope Hummingbirds:
Like all hummingbirds, calliope hummingbirds are attracted to backyards that offer suitable hummingbird flowers and nectar feeders. Because these birds are more timid, they are more likely to visit feeders in sheltered locations with plenty of cover. Birders should also avoid using pesticides or insecticides that would eliminate and important food source for the birds.
- Costa’s Hummingbird (Calypte costae)
- Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
- Rufous Hummingbird (Calypte costae)
Photos © Mike VanDeWalker