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10 Fascinating Behaviors of Black-chinned Hummingbirds: From Flight to Breeding and Beyond

Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) are small, colorful birds found in the southern and western parts of North America. They are known for their high metabolism and the ability to flap their wings incredibly fast, making them fascinating birds to observe.

In this article, we will take a closer look at Black-chinned Hummingbirds, their identification, plumages, and molts.



Identification: Black-chinned Hummingbirds are small and stocky, measuring approximately 3-4 inches in length with a wingspan of 4-5 inches. They have a glossy green upper body, with a black chin and throat, which can appear iridescent when reflecting light.

The female and juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbirds are less vibrant and often have grayish-brown bodies with white underparts. Similar Species: Black-chinned Hummingbirds are often confused with other species of hummingbirds.

The closely related Ruby-throated Hummingbird has a similar size and shape, but males have a bright red throat rather than a black chin. Anna’s Hummingbird shares the glossy green upper body of Black-chinned Hummingbirds, but males have a bright pink-red crown, and females have a greenish-gray crown.


Black-chinned Hummingbirds have two main plumages: breeding and non-breeding. During the breeding season, male Black-chinned Hummingbirds have an iridescent purple crown that extends down to their throat and a metallic green back.

Their wings are a brownish-black color. Female Black-chinned Hummingbirds, on the other hand, have a duller green coloration with white underparts.


Black-chinned Hummingbirds undergo two molts a year, once after the breeding season and again in the spring before the breeding season. The post-breeding molt begins in late summer and continues into late fall, during which they replace their feathers gradually.

The pre-breeding molt occurs during February and March, which involves a replacement of most of their flight and body feathers. In conclusion, Black-chinned Hummingbirds are fascinating birds with distinctive features and behaviors.

Proper identification is essential to avoid confusion with similar-looking hummingbird species. Understanding their plumages and molts can also help with their identification and observation.

These remarkable birds are sure to captivate anyone who takes the time to observe them. Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) have a rich systematics history that spans over centuries.

In this article, we will delve into the geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes to distribution of these fascinating birds.

Geographic Variation

Black-chinned Hummingbirds exhibit geographic variation in physical characteristics, vocalizations, and behavior. The bird’s southern range is strongly associated with a monsoon-influenced climate, whereas their range to the north is characterized by a more arid climate.

Thus, there is considerable variation in the temperature regime that these birds experience across their range. As a result, birds that inhabit migratory corridors or populations at the edge of the wintering range can experience additional environmental selection pressures.


The widespread distribution of Black-chinned Hummingbirds has led to the recognition of several subspecies. The taxonomy of the Black-chinned hummingbird has evolved over time, resulting in different numbers of recognized subspecies from one source to the next.

These subspecies are:

1. Archilochus alexandri alexandri


Archilochus alexandri nitens

3. Archilochus alexandri eremosphaerus


Archilochus alexandri chalcocephalus

5. Archilochus alexandri cearae


Archilochus alexandri yucatanensis

7. Archilochus alexandri scintilla

These subspecies show morphological, vocal, and ecological distinctions, particularly in the intensity of their colorations and distributions within the Black-chinned hummingbird’s range.

For example, the chalcocephalus and cearae subspecies have a more vibrant green back than the nominate alexandri subspecies, while the nitens and scintilla subspecies are less iridescent than other subspecies.

Related Species

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are part of the family Trochilidae, which includes over 330 species of hummingbirds. Some of the closest relatives of the Black-chinned Hummingbird include the Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope), Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), and Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus).

Throughout their history, the Black-chinned Hummingbird has faced various changes in the distribution of their populations due to both climate change and human activity.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Historical records show that the Black-chinned Hummingbird’s distribution has varied over time. For example, in the early 20th century, Black-chinned Hummingbird populations were less common in the eastern United States than they are today.

In the early 1900s, records show breeding populations mainly in southwestern United States and northern Mexico, with a few sightings in eastern Texas, southeastern Colorado, and Nebraska. However, over the past century, changes in habitat and climate have expanded the range of the Black-chinned Hummingbird to the eastern United States.

They are now regularly observed as far east as Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia in the summer months. These changes are believed to be due to human activities, including the planting of ornamental hummingbird flowers and the establishment of backyard bird feeders.

In recent decades, climate change has also had a significant impact on the distribution of the Black-chinned Hummingbird. Global warming has been linked to an increase in fire frequency, which may play a role in reducing the available habitat in some areas.

In conclusion, Black-chinned Hummingbirds have a rich history that spans centuries, with records of changes in their distribution, physical characteristics, vocalization, and behavior. Understanding the subspecies and related species of Black-chinned Hummingbirds, as well as their geographic variation and historical changes to distribution, can help us better appreciate and protect these fascinating birds throughout their range.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) are known for being one of the most widespread hummingbird species in North America. Their movements and habitat use varied depending on the season and the availability of resources.

In this article, we will delve into their habitat, movements, migration patterns, and the factors that influence them.


Black-chinned Hummingbirds have a wide range of habitats, from deserts and dry scrublands to forests and grasslands. They are most frequently found at elevations between 3,000 and 7,000 feet but have been found from sea level to over 12,000 feet.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds tend to prefer habitats with deciduous trees, flowering shrubs, and cacti, and are often associated with riparian areas as well. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are also known to establish territories near man-made feeders or nectar-rich gardens.

These alternate habitats provide additional food resources for individuals, which helps sustain their populations, particularly during droughts or natural disasters.

Movements and Migration

Black-chinned Hummingbirds make two distinct movements every year: breeding and wintering. These movements are influenced by the availability of resources, temperature, and photoperiod that the birds experience across their range.

Breeding Movements: Black-chinned Hummingbirds migrate to their breeding grounds in the spring, where they establish territories, feed, and breed. During their breeding season from March to September, Black-chinned Hummingbirds can be found from southern Alaska to northwestern Mexico.

Winter Movements: As the breeding season ends, Black-chinned Hummingbirds begin their southward migration towards their winter habitat, located in Mexico and Central America. Some birds spend the winter in parts of Arizona and New Mexico, but most of the wintering population is located south of the US-Mexico border.

Factors Influencing

Movements and Migration

Resource Availability: Black-chinned Hummingbirds depend on floral resources to fuel their high metabolism and activity levels. The availability of these resources varies throughout the year, depending on changes in weather, rainfall, and plant phenology.

When these resources become scarce, Black-chinned Hummingbirds will search for alternative food sources that include insects and spiders. Temperature and Photoperiod: Changes in temperature and variations in photoperiod are important cues for many bird species to initiate breeding activities.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds begin their breeding season in the spring when the temperatures are warm enough to support new growth in vegetation, which provides a crucial source of nectar for them. Urbanization: Black-chinned Hummingbirds are known to adapt to urban environments where bird feeders and gardens provide an alternative food source.

Urban areas can serve as important stopover sites for migrants and may also provide wintering habitat for some individuals.


Black-chinned Hummingbirds are fascinating birds that exhibit varied movements, habitat use, and migration patterns. Understanding the factors that influence their movements and migration can be critical for their conservation, particularly as habitat availability changes with global climate change.

The use of alternate habitats, such as the nectar-rich flowers and bird feeders, has helped to sustain Black-chinned Hummingbird populations and is essential in the maintenance of their population in both their breeding and wintering areas. Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) are small yet fascinating birds that are renowned for their foraging behaviors and vocalizations.

In this article, we will explore the diet and foraging behaviors of Black-chinned Hummingbirds, as well as their vocalizations and how they use sound to communicate with their surroundings.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding: Black-chinned Hummingbirds are nectarivores, and their diet consists primarily of nectar from flowers. They also feed on small arthropods, including spiders and insects, which provide them with additional protein that is needed for their growth and development.

Diet: The nectar that Black-chinned Hummingbirds consume contains water, sugars, minerals, and amino acids. These nutrients provide a quick burst of energy for the birds, which is essential given their high metabolic rate.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation: To support their high metabolic rate, Black-chinned Hummingbirds often consume up to their body weight in nectar every day. This high metabolic rate, together with their small body size, allows Black-chinned Hummingbirds to regulate their body temperatures effectively.

They can maintain their body temperature within a narrow range, which is essential for their survival. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are known for their unique foraging behaviors, which entail hovering in front of flowers and extending their bill or tongue into the flower to drink nectar.

They can also fly forwards, backward, upside down, and hover in mid-air, allowing them to access nectar in hard-to-reach positions. Their ability to hover and fly in all directions is attributed to a unique wing design that allows them to generate lift in the upstroke as well as the downstroke.

Sounds and Vocal


Vocalization: Black-chinned Hummingbirds use diverse sounds to communicate with their environment, including songs, calls, and aerial displays. Male Black-chinned Hummingbirds produce a unique sound by vibrating their tail feathers, which produces a high-pitched buzzing sound that is used to attract mates.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds also emit a noise, similar to a chirp, during flight, which warns other birds of any danger. The songs of male Black-chinned Hummingbirds are complex and range from high-pitched chirps to low rumbling notes.

The songs are composed of multiple syllables that are repeated several times, and they usually end with a quick series of chirps or buzzes. Black-chinned Hummingbirds also use aerial displays to communicate with their surroundings.

Their aerial displays involve a series of aerial acrobatics, including dives, loops, and varying speeds that are intended to either attract a mate or warn off a rival.


Black-chinned Hummingbirds are fascinating birds that exhibit unique behaviors, including their hovering and flying techniques necessary for foraging and their vocalizations and other sound-making behaviors. The high metabolic rate required to fuel their flight and hovering behaviors coupled with their small size provides an interesting study in avian thermoregulation.

Further studies into their foraging habits and vocalization frequency and meaning could provide important insights into their survival and reproductive success in rapidly changing environments. Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) are one of the most fascinating bird species, known for their unique behavior and breeding habits.

In this article, we will explore the behavior of Black-chinned Hummingbirds, including their locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, and sexual behavior. We will also delve into their breeding habits, demography, and population.


Locomotion: Black-chinned Hummingbirds are highly active birds that use a variety of locomotory behaviors, including hovering, forward and backward flight, and the ability to move in every direction. Their unique wing design, which allows them to generate lift during both the upstroke and downstroke, gives Black-chinned Hummingbirds a high degree of maneuverability and agility.

Self-Maintenance: Black-chinned Hummingbirds maintain their feathers and body by preening themselves. They use their beaks to preen and arrange their feathers to keep them clean and in good condition.

Preaching also helps to remove parasites or other items that may be caught on their bodies. Agonistic

Behavior: Agonistic behavior is common among Black-chinned Hummingbirds and is linked to resource competition and territoriality.

These behaviors may include high-pitched chirps, diving, and chasing other birds out of their territory. Sexual

Behavior: Males will stake out territories and defend them from other males competing for mates.

During the mating season, female Black-chinned Hummingbirds will select males based on their vocalizations, aerial displays, and physical characteristics, including their coloration.


Black-chinned Hummingbirds breed from March to September, with breeding peaking between April and August. Males attract females using their unique songs, aerial displays, and physical characteristics.

Females will choose a mate based on his courtship displays and the quality of his territory. Once the pair bond has formed, the female will build a small nest made of spider webs, plant materials, and other fibers.

Nests are often located in trees, shrubs or in man-made structures close to a source of water or flowers. The female will lay one to three eggs, which she will incubate for approximately two weeks.

To protect their young, Black-chinned Hummingbirds are highly territorial and will aggressively defend their nests from predators and other birds that might pose a threat to their offspring. After hatching, the young are fed a diet of nectar and insects by both parents for approximately 17-21 days before they fledge.

Demography and Populations

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are widespread and common throughout their range, with relatively stable populations. However, like most bird species, they face threats to their habitat primarily due to human activities such as deforestation, land-use conversion, and fragmentation.

Climate change also poses a significant threat to their range and could lead to changes in their population dynamics. Monitoring populations of Black-chinned Hummingbirds and assessing their responses to changes in their habitat and the environment can help inform conservation efforts to protect both the species and their critical habitats.

Consequently, continued research, monitoring, and conservation are required to ensure the long-term survival of these unique and fascinating hummingbirds.

In conclusion, Black-chinned Hummingbirds exhibit fascinating behavior in myriad ways, from their locomotion to their vocalization and their sexual and breeding behavior.

Their adaptability to alternative habitats and reliance on floral resources are an essential indication of their ability to explore a range of habitats, including urban areas. To protect their populations, managing habitat fragmentation, population monitoring, and mitigating threats such as human interference, and climate change must be given specific attention in the conservation and management of these important species.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are fascinating birds with a unique set of behaviors, from their foraging habits and vocalizations to their breeding behavior and territoriality. They survive by depending on nectar, insects, and alternative food sources as they adapt to different habitats across North America.

Their adaptability and population stability are critical for their long-term survival in a changing environment. As scientists continue to study these birds, the information gained can be used in conservation strategies to mitigate the threats of habitat destruction, climate change, and other factors that could affect their populations.

By protecting these magnificent birds and their ecosystems, we can ensure the continuation of their vital ecological roles as pollinators and as a vital part of the biodiversity in our planet’s ecosystems.

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