Description 3 1/4 - 3 3/4" A small
hummingbird. Male green above with iridescent
black chin underlined by violet-purple throat
Female green above with white throat and
breast, buff sides, and white-tipped outer tail
Compared to other regional hummingbirds, the
Black-chinned Hummingbird has a smaller
head, thinner neck, and more slender body.
Habitat Mountain and alpine meadows,
woodlands, canyons with thickets, chaparral,
Diet Small insects, spiders, nectar from a
wide variety of flowers, and sugar-water from
feeders. They feed at varying levels, from close
to the ground to high up in trees. They catch
insects in the air, glean them from vegetation,
or take them from spider webs or from the
Nesting The courtship dive of the male is a
long, pendulum-like swoop above a perched
female. At the bottom of the dive, he produces a
Sometimes the dive takes the shape of a
narrow, horizontal figure eight. During this dive,
the wing and tail feathers make a loud whistling
All parental care is by females, who have been
observed feeding young in one nest while
incubating eggs in another.
She lays 2 white eggs in a nest of fluffy plant
wool and lichens woven together with spider
webs, placed in a shrub or low tree.
The female incubates the eggs for 13-16 days.
She feeds and cares for the young by herself
until they become independent at 20-21 days.
Range Breeds from British Columbia south
throughout West to Mexico and central Texas.
Winters in Mexico, although some spend the
winter in southern Texas. Males arrive in the
Northwest in late May, and females arrive 1-2
The males start to leave the breeding ground in
mid- to late June, and most are gone by the end
of July. The females and young remain longer,
but start to head south in July, and most have
left by the middle of August.
Voice Black-chinned hummingbirds produce
a variety of call notes, typically used while
chasing other birds. Their rapid wingbeats also
produce a buzzing sound.
Discussion The least common of
Northwest's breeding hummingbirds,
Black-chinned Hummingbirds can be found
east of the Cascade Mountains at low
elevations in wetlands, urban and suburban
areas, and along rivers.
They are common in northeastern Washington
and along the Idaho border, south to the Blue