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Hummingbirds In California: 10 Zesty Species In Wine Country

Bird watching birds

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

Ah, California. 

One of the world’s best to-go states for hummingbird sightseeing. These small little fellows’ speed and hovering skills surely won’t disappoint you. 

But...

One thing we can’t deny about them is how hard they are to distinguish from one another.

Don’t worry, though, because we’ve got you covered!

If you would like to know more about these feathered friends, then read on!

10 Species Of California Hummingbirds

According to the Internation Community of Ornithologists or ICO, there are 361 species of hummingbirds in the world, and 10 of them can be found in California located on the continent of North America.

Listed below are a few of the prominent types of hummingbirds in California.

1. Rufous Hummingbird

When it comes to sharing feeders and chasing away other hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds are notorious for being "feisty." 

Males have an orange-red neck and a white patch on their upper breasts. Females have speckled throats and rusty streaks on their skin. 

The species of Rufous Hummingbird fly up through California in the spring, spend the summer in Oregon, Washington, and Canada, and then return to the Rockies in the fall.

These Rufous Hummingbirds can grow up to 2.8 to 3.5 inches in length, 2 to 5 grams of weight, and wingspans of 4.3 inches. They have a keen taste for nectars from flowers but also like insects when readily available.

On their trip up north in the early spring (March or April), they are regularly sighted in California. Rufous Hummingbirds are more frequent on the western side of the state, along with the Sierra Nevada range, when they return south in the late summer.

The Rufous species is one of the hummingbirds in Northern California that stay for the whole season. For this reason, you might as well get them a quality bird house to settle in for the time being while watching them go about their business!

2. Costa's Hummingbird

Costa hummingbirds are tiny and have slightly shorter wings and tails than other hummingbirds. In Baja and Southern California, they can be found all year.

The bright purple faces of male Costas are well-known. They have purple feathers flaring out on both sides like a mustache, with a splash of purple on their foreheads and throats. 

These Southern California hummingbirds also like to feed on nectar as well as insects based on the circumstances. They grow up to 3.5 inches in length with 2 to 3 grams in weight.

There are semi-frequent sightings up to San Francisco and Sacramento, but they become much more sparse further north, even if they are mostly hummingbirds of the south of California.

3. Calliope Hummingbird

Aside from the Pacific Northwest and areas of western Canada, the Calliope Hummingbird can be found in many western states during the spring and fall migration. 

Given that the Calliope is the smallest bird in the United States, it is an unusually long journey as they migrate.

Calliope Hummingbirds can grow up to 3.1 to 3.5 inches in length, 2.3 to 3.4 grams in weight, and wingspans of 4.1 to 4.3 inches. Nectar acts as this species’ main food gathered from cupped flowers.

The throat pattern of magenta stripes that fork down on the sides is peculiar to males. Females have peachy-tinted underparts and a plain neck with some green markings.

The female Calliope Hummingbird is quite comparable to a female Rufous one with their indistinguishable traits. 

However, they have an obvious difference which is their bills and coloring. The female Rufous one is larger and has longer bills, with denser copper coloring at the end of the tail.

Calliopes are one of the most known California hummingbirds. They mainly pass through Southern and Coastal California when migrating and along the Northern and North Eastern during summer. 

The Tahoe National Forest, Yosemite National Park, San Bernardino National Forest, and Sequoia National Park are just a few of the places where they've been reported the most.

4. Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbirds are medium-sized birds that can be found throughout the year in most of its range in the United States, but only in a few western states, such as California. 

Their feathers are a tad brighter and shinier than most others, and they have emerald feathers on their chest and belly as well. Males' throats are rosy-pink, and their foreheads are covered in bright feathers. Gardening and eucalyptus trees are their favorite things to do in the backyard.

Annas can be seen all year round in parts of California, but they are significantly less prevalent in Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. They may stay for the breeding season but leave in the winter in the state's northeastern section. These birds’ favorite food is nectar from multiple types of flowers; however, they sometimes steal and feed on insects stuck on spider webs when given the chance. 

You could give them no mess bird seeds instead as an alternative to their regular diet. Their chances of survival will increase and you also get the chance to take care of them!

On average, the hummingbirds' lengths can measure up to 3.9 inches, weigh between 3 to 6 grams, and have wingspans of 4.7 inches.

5. Allen's Hummingbird

These small-sized hummingbirds fly and pass from Central America to the Pacific Coast in California for breeding each year. 

It's difficult to tell the two apart because they're so close in color to the Rufous Hummingbird. 

The males of this species are orange with a greenback and a reddish-orange throat. With a dark green back and brownish-orange flanks, females have speckled necks. 

They also measure 3.5 inches in length, 2 to 4 grams in weight, and 4.3 inches of wingspans.

In comparison to other hummingbirds in California, they begin their journey in January and arrive in California in February. This also indicates that they may begin to travel south earlier, as early as May or June. 

With very few exceptions, Allen's are common in California, but they are only found along the coast. They can be found almost anywhere along the shore, from north to south. During the spring and fall migrations, you might be able to find them a little further inland. Its diet comes from nectar and other insects as well.

Since most of them are found near bodies of water, hummingbirds could be said to be fond of bathing. In this case, you could get them one of many best bird baths and watch them play around!

6. Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Every year, hummingbirds from Mexico and Central America fly north to reproduce in the western United States. 

In bright daylight, males' throats appear to be plain black, but they have a little strip of purple feathers down the bottom that is occasionally visible. 

Females are green above and pale below, with a simple neck, like other hummingbird females. They can be found in a variety of environments, from deserts to alpine forests, and prefer to sit on bare branches.

From spring to fall, look for black-chinned hummingbirds all over California. However, in many areas, they will be most visible during migration in the spring or fall.

The species of this hummingbird can grow up to 3.5 inches in length, 2.3 to 4.9 grams in weight, and 4.3 inches of wingspan by mostly eating nectars and often available insects.

7. Broad-Billed Hummingbird

Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Broad-Billed Hummingbird

Arizona and New Mexico are the only two states in the United States where the broad-billed hummingbird is known to breed. 

Males have a purplish-blue neck and a blueish-green belly, making them difficult to mistake. Their beaks are orange with a black tip. The female hummingbird has a washed-out green upper body and a grayish underbelly, with a black beak. 

They can reach a length of 3.1 to 3.9 inches and a weight of 3 to 4 grams by feeding on native plants' nectars, their primary food source, and insects. 

While broad-billed hummingbirds aren't frequent in California, they've been observed a dozen or so times in certain locations. The coast between San Francisco and Monterey, as well as the fringes of Los Angeles and San Diego, maybe your best bet.

8. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Hummingbirds with broad tails prefer the highlands and breed at elevations of up to 10,500 feet. 

The throat of males is rosy-magenta. Females have buffy-colored sides and green markings on their throat and cheeks.

Broad-tailed hummingbirds are seasonal visitors to the United States, so search for them in meadows and forest clearings between May and August. They can grow up to 3.1 to 3.5 inches in length and 2.8 to 4.5 grams in weight.

They're exclusively found along California's extreme eastern border, in regions like Death Valley, Yosemite, and the Sierra National Forest. However, they may be seen in other parts of the state, particularly in the south.

These birds feed on an equal share of nectars and insects. The mothers tend to feed insects on the young birds. The species can also lower its body temperature and change the pace of its heart rate when on cold days, to enter a state of torpor.

9. Violet-Crowned Hummingbird

Violet-Crowned Hummingbird
Violet-Crowned Hummingbird

These species have a blue and purple feathered head and a bright white belly. Their bill is reddish red. 

Although little is known about this hummingbird, it is known that it prefers riverbanks and wooded places.

Their distribution in the United States has not been well examined, but they are known to be widespread in Mexico. Their breeding habits are unknown, however, they are known to make a squeaky sound during the breeding season.

During their breeding season, you can find these birds all around California. They aren't frequent visitors to any garden; however, they have been observed using a sugar-water hummingbird feeder.

The species of this hummingbird is measured 4 inches in length, 5 grams in weight, and has wingspans of 5.5 inches. They are attracted to nectars of abundant red flowers and consume insects that are available as well.

10. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds with ruby-throats are extremely frequent in the eastern half of the United States, but rarely in the western half. Their backs are green, and their underbelly is white. 

In some lighting, males have a ruby-red throat that can appear black. 

They arrive in droves each spring from their wintering grounds in Central America. Many of those flying to the eastern states do it in a single flight across the Gulf of Mexico.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are uncommon in California, where they are only spotted on rare occasions. The majority of sightings are along the coast.

It is said that a ruby-throated hummingbird can grow up to 7 to 9 centimeters in length, 3.1 grams in weight, and a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches. They feed on nectars, spiders, and other insects that are sources of proteins such as flies, gnats, and aphids.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Do hummingbirds stay in California all year round?

Only Anna’s Hummingbirds stay in California year-round. However, in the bay area, there are 6 species of regular visitors such as the Costa's, Anna's, Calliope, Allen's, Rufous, and Black-Chinned.

What is the most common hummingbird in California?

Hummingbirds in Northern California and Southern California both have the same species as their most common hummingbirds. Hence, the most common CA hummingbird is Anna’s Hummingbird.

How can I protect endangered species of hummingbirds?

The UC Davis Hummingbird Health and Conservation Program (HHCP) plans to develop healthy populations for every hummingbird species by defining normal health metrics, identifying illness risks, and assisting in the prevention of disease. With your support of their ideals, the HHCP can build a solid infrastructure from which outside funding can be developed.

What to consider when identifying birds in California?

In identifying various types of birds, there are 5 things you must consider - the size of the bird, its shape which can be seen better in silhouette, its color pattern, the bird’s behavior, and the habitat it is in.

What time of the day do hummingbirds come?

All the hummingbirds can be seen feeding at any time of the day as it varies from one bird to another. However, hummingbirds have their favorite time of the day to come to feeders which is dawn or dusk.


Conclusion

Now that you’ve seen one of the beauties of California, please make sure to take care of the environment we live in as it is also a home for hundreds more hummingbirds; not just in North America but also in South America, Central America, and the whole world.

We hope we provided you with the information you need. 

We wish joyous birdwatching for you and your feathered acquaintances. Also, we’ll continue to support the growth of the experience you’ll have as you befriend each one on the list.

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