Description 2 3/4-3 1/4" The
smallest North American hummingbird.
Male metallic green above; has white
gorget with purple-violet rays, which can
be raised to give a whiskered effect. (All
other North American hummers have
Female green above, white below, with
dark streaks on throat, buffy flanks, and
white-tipped tail corners. Resembles
the female Rufous Hummingbird, but
smaller, with smaller bill, paler flanks,
and less rufous at base of tail.
Habitat Montane and subalpine forest
clearings, brushy edges, and alpine
Diet The Calliope Hummingbird feeds
on nectar from flowers and feeders. It
catches insects in flight and uses
sapsucker holes to feed on sap and
insects attracted to the sap.
Nesting During courtship, the male
hovers in front of and above the female,
producing a loud buzz. Sometimes the
pair will go into an aerial dance, circling
around each other, a constant distance
Calliope Hummingbirds do not form
extended pair bonds. The female builds
the nest, incubates the eggs, and feeds
the young on her own. The male
provides no parental care.
2 bean-sized white eggs are laid,
surprisingly large for such a tiny bird.
The nest is a small lichen-and-moss
nest covered with cobwebs.
It is typially placed in a conifer often near
cones or knots or on an old cone base
and can easily be mistaken for a cone.
Range Breeds in mountains from
interior and southern coastal British
Columbia south through Pacific states
and east to Colorado.
The Calliope Hummingbird is the
smallest long-distance avian migrant in
the world. It winters in central Mexico
and arrives in the northwest from late
April to mid-May.
Adult males may wander a bit in late
summer, and typically migrate south
before females and young born that year.
Voice A high-pitched tsew. Calliope
Hummingbirds make mechanical
buzzing and twittering sounds, both
vocally and with their wings. Their
vocalizations are, however, quieter than
those of many other hummingbirds.
Discussion When defending their
feeding flowers or courting a female,
male hummers put on a striking
spectacle, rising out of sight and then
swooping down to buzz their opponent
or the female. Each species has its own
July 22, 2009 I got to save a baby hummingbird!
An otherwise ordinary afternoon and evening turned
into a very cool adventure, when a baby hummingbird
hit the glass office door at 4:30. I scooped him up and
placed him in a basket with a bath towel.
For the next four hours, at fifteen-minute intervals, I
fed him sugar water. I would dip my finger into the
sugar water and he would gently sip it from the puddle
formed under my fingernail, pushing his tongue all
over to get every drop.
Between feedings, I would hang the basket on the hook near the sugar water feeder, in
hopes other adult hummers would perhaps tend to him and encourage him to fly. At 8:15
he was in the basket, and when I returned to check on him at 8:30 he was gone.