Black-chinned hummingbird

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Black-chinned hummingbird
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[2]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Strisores
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Archilochus
A. alexandri
Binomial name
Archilochus alexandri
(Bourcier & Mulsant, 1846)
Black-chinned Hummingbird ebird data map.png
Global range
  Year-Round Range
  Summer Range
  Winter Range

The black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is a small hummingbird occupying a broad range of habitats.[3] It is migratory, spending winter as far south as Mexico.


A hybrid between this species and Anna's hummingbird was called "Trochilus" violajugulum. The black-chinned hummingbird is also known to hybridize with Anna's,[4] Lucifer,[4] broad-tailed,[4] and Costa's hummingbirds.[5]

As of 2011, it has the smallest known genome of all living amniotes, only 0.91 pg (910 million base pairs).[6]


The black-chinned hummingbird is 8.25 cm (3.25 in) long. Adults are metallic green above and white below with green flanks. Their bill is long, straight and very slender. The adult male has a black face and chin, a glossy purple throat band and a dark forked tail. The female has a dark rounded tail with white tips and no throat patch; they are similar to female ruby-throated hummingbirds. Juvenile plumage is similar to that of adult females, but with buff margins on the dorsal feathers. Juvenile males may also possess purple feathers on their throats.[7]

Young are born almost featherless, but obtain a complete set of feathers within three weeks of hatching. Juveniles can begin replacing their plumage in November, and acquire their first basic plumage between April and May. Molts will then occur annually, taking 7–8 months at the population level.[8]

Similar species to the black-chinned hummingbird include broad-tailed hummingbird, rufous hummingbird, calliope hummingbird, Allen's hummingbird, lucifer hummingbird, Anna's hummingbird, and Costa's hummingbird.[9]

Audio recording

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Black-chinned hummingbirds are found in most of the western United States, reaching north into Canada in Alberta and British Columbia, east to Oklahoma, and as far south as Mexico.[3] They can be found in mountains, woodlands, orchards, meadows, and chaparral habitats. Their breeding habitat is open, semiarid areas, usually near water in the western United States, northern Mexico, and southern British Columbia.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

These birds feed on nectar from flowers using a long extendable tongue or catch insects on the wing. While collecting nectar, they also assist in plant pollination.

The males and females of this species use different habitats from one another for breeding territories.[10] Black-chinned hummingbirds can exhibit territorial behavior around feeders as well as at other small feeding sites, and become more defensive as the breeding season continues. However, if there are a large number of individuals in an area as well as multiple food sources, this species will exhibit very little territoriality. Unlike most passerines, the agonistic call of the black-chinned hummingbird is acoustically complex, with notes ordered in non-random patterns, and are even more complex than their songs.[11] This species also uses diving displays (40–60 ft (12–18 m) dives) for territory defense as well as courtship, producing a variety of tones as air passes through their feathers during the plunge.[12]

The female builds a well-camouflaged nest in a protected location in a shrub or tree using plant fibers, spider web silk, downy feathers and lichens. Black-chinned hummingbirds prefer to nest 6–12 ft (1.8–3.7 m) above the ground, often on exposed horizontal branches below the canopy. Research also suggests that they may purposefully nest near the active nests of much larger, predatory birds, as a means of reducing nest predation. The larger predators are too large and slow to be interested in the hummingbird, but their presence will deter other birds that might be interested in the black-chinned hummingbird's eggs or newly hatched chicks.[13] This species lays 2 small (8 mm (0.31 in) in width) white eggs at a time, incubating them for a period of 12–16 days.

Because of their small size, they are vulnerable to insect-eating birds and animals.


Because of its large range (236,000 km2 (91,000 sq mi)), considerable population size and growth (14.6% increase per decade), this species has been labeled as a least-concern species.[1] Trend maps for black-chinned hummingbirds showed a relatively stable population between 2009-2019, albeit with some decline in late years of that decade.[14]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2016). "Archilochus alexandri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22688196A93186569. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22688196A93186569.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  3. ^ a b Baltosser, W.H.; Russell, S.M. (2000). Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri). The Birds of North America. Pittsburgh, PA, US: The Birds of North America Inc.
  4. ^ a b c Williamson, Sheri (2001). A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. p. 62. ISBN 0-618-02496-4.
  5. ^ Short, Lester L.; Phillips, Allan R. (1966). "More Hybrid Hummingbirds from the United States". The Auk. Oxford University Press (OUP). 83 (2): 253–265. doi:10.2307/4083018. ISSN 0004-8038. JSTOR 4083018.
  6. ^ Gregory, T.R. (2005). "Birds - Animal Genome Size Database". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  7. ^ Baldridge, Frank A. (April 1983). "Plumage Characteristics of Juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbirds" (PDF). The Condor. 85 (1): 102–103. doi:10.2307/1367900. JSTOR 1367900. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  8. ^ Baltosser, W.H. (April 1995). "Annual Molt in Ruby-Throated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds" (PDF). The Condor. 97 (2): 484–491. doi:10.2307/1369034. JSTOR 1369034. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Black-chinned Hummingbird". The Audubon Society. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  10. ^ Berns, C.M.; Adams, D.C. (July 2010). "Bill Shape and Sexual Shape Dimorphism between Two Species of Temperate Hummingbirds: Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) and Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (A. Colubris)". The Auk. 127 (3): 626–635. doi:10.1525/auk.2010.09213. JSTOR 10.1525/auk.2010.09213. S2CID 5571877.
  11. ^ Rusch, K.M.; Pytte, C.L.; Ficken, M.S. (July 1996). "Organization of Agonistic Vocalizations in Black-chinned Hummingbirds" (PDF). The Condor. 98 (3): 557–566. doi:10.2307/1369568. JSTOR 1369568. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  12. ^ Feo, T.J.; Clark, C.J. (October 2010). "The Displays and Sonations of the Black-chinned Hummingbird (Trochilidae: Archilochus alexandri)". The Auk. 127 (4): 787–796. doi:10.1525/auk.2010.09263. JSTOR 10.1525/auk.2010.09263. S2CID 37159689.
  13. ^ Greeney, H.F.; Wethington, S.M. (December 2009). "Proximity to Active Accipiter Nests Reduces Nest Predation of Black-chinned Hummingbirds". The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 121 (4): 809–812. doi:10.1676/08-174.1. JSTOR 20616992. S2CID 54929731.
  14. ^ English, Simon G.; Bishop, Christine A.; Wilson, Scott; Smith, Adam C. (2021-09-15). "Current contrasting population trends among North American hummingbirds". Scientific Reports. 11 (1): 18369. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-97889-x. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 8443710. PMID 34526619.

External links[edit]