Allen's Hummingbird

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Image:Allen'sHummingbird.JPG

Common Name: Allen’s Hummingbird
Scientific Name: Selasphorus sasin

Size: 3.5 inches (9 cm)

Habitat: North America; found on the coastal strip of the Pacific ocean from Southern Oregon to Mexico. Breeds in moist coastal areas, scrub, chaparral, and forests. Winters in forest edge and scrub clearings with flowers.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 500,000 mature individuals. Populations may be declining (Cornell Lab of Ornithology/IUCN).

Diet: Flower nectar, small insects, and tree sap. Comes to hummingbird feeders.

Breeding: Breeding male and female Allen's Hummingbirds have different habitat preferences. The male sets up a territory overseeing open areas of coastal scrub vegetation or riparian shrubs, where he often perches conspicuously on exposed leafless branches. The female selects nest sites in more densely vegetated areas and forests. The courtship flight of the male Allen's Hummingbird is a frantic back and forth flight arc of about 25 feet (10 m) similar to the motion of a swinging pendulum, followed by a high-speed dive from about 100 feet (30 m). The male is also highly aggressive and territorial.

The Allen's Hummingbird constructs its nest out of plant fibers, down, and weed stems, coating the nest with lichens to give it structure. The nest is placed above ground on a tree branch or the stalk or stem of a plant. The female lays two white eggs, which she will incubate for 15 to 17 days. The young will leave the nest about three weeks after hatching. The mother will continue to feed the fledglings for several more weeks, then the young are left to fend for themselves.

Cool Facts: Two subspecies of Allen's Hummingbirds are recognized. The nominate race of Allen's Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin sasin) is migratory, and winters along the Pacific coast of central Mexico. A second race, Selasphorus sasin sedentarius, is a permanent resident on the Channel Islands off southern California. This population colonized the Palos Verdes Peninsula of Los Angeles County in the 1960s and has since spread over much of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Allen’s Hummingbirds closely resemble the smaller Rufus Hummingbirds and 10% of each species has the exact field markings of its counterpart, but for the most part, Rufus Hummingbirds have coppery backs and Allen’s have greenish backs. Both the birds are distinctive by their metallic sounding wingbeat. The Allen's Hummingbird is a remarkably early migrant compared with most North American birds. Northbound birds may depart on spring migration as early as December and arrive on the summer breeding grounds as early as January. Adult males may begin their southward fall migration in mid-May and arrive on winter grounds as early as August.

The common name commemorates Charles Andrew Allen (1841-1930), American collector and taxidermist.


Included in Songbird ReMix Hummingbirds of North America

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