A highly adaptable little bird, the black-chinned hummingbird can be found in the mountains, semi-arid plains, river valleys, canyons, oak forests, and even in backyard gardens in residential areas.
Because of this flexibility, the black-chinned hummingbird enjoys a thriving population.
The black-chinned hummingbird is a quirky member of the hummingbird family. From its migratory patterns, courtship rituals, and yearly broods, the black-chinned hummingbird is an enchanting bird.
Here are 12 interesting facts about the black-chinned hummingbird.
1. Their Black Chin Is Really For Identifying The Females
Both male and female black-chinned hummingbirds have black chins. This feature comes in handy when trying to identify the females.
Female black-chinned hummingbirds look like the female members of other hummingbird species.
Although the black chins are so tiny that they can be difficult to see, this is the best way to identify a female black-chinned hummingbird in the wild.
As for the males, as we see next, they have their own distinguishing features.
2. Male Black-Chinned Hummingbirds Are Easy To Spot
The female members of the species are harder to distinguish, but the male black-chinned hummingbirds are easy to pick out of a crowd.
In addition to their black chins, they have a collar of white feathers and a blotch of iridescent purple at their throats.
3. You Won’t See Them In The U.S. During The Winter
Many hummingbird species winter over in North America, but not the black-chinned hummingbirds.
These birds are found in the Rocky Mountains and mountainous areas of the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, California, and western Texas in the summer months.
In the winter, however, the black-chinned hummingbirds fly down the California coast. They spend the winters in central Mexico.
They return north in the spring once it is warm enough for flowers to bloom.
4. Their Wingspan Is Longer Than Their Bodies
On average, the black-chinned hummingbird’s body measures about 3 ½ inches long.
Its wingspan, however, is longer. The wingspan of the black-chinned hummingbird is typically between 4 and 5 inches.
These birds weigh between 0.1 and 0.12 ounces.
5. Black-Chinned Hummingbirds Can’t Sing
Although black-chinned hummingbirds can vocalize, they can’t really sing. Instead, they repeat a low “tut-tut-tut” call. When aggravated, they speed up their chatter.
Black-chinned hummingbirds are not as territorial as other hummingbird species, but when they do act aggressively, they will use their wings to produce a metallic buzzy noise.
6. Male Black-Chinned Hummingbirds Buzz Prospective Mates
Male black-chinned hummingbirds display impressive courtship rituals to win over prospective mates.
A male will fly high in the air and then dive toward the female, sitting on her perch. When he gets close, he will pull up, forming a U-pattern, and zip up high once again.
The male will repeat his U-shaped dives over and over again, but will also zip back and forth in front of the female.
When he buzzes by her, he makes a whirring noise with his wings.
7. Nectar And Insects Make Up The Bulk Of Their Diet
The diet of the black-chinned hummingbird consists mostly of nectar from flowers, along with small insects.
Like all hummingbirds, the black-chinned hummingbird dips its long bill in the middle of a flower and uses its tongue to extract the nectar.
They have also developed a taste for sugar water from residential hummingbird feeders.
When they catch insects, black-chinned hummingbirds will either find crawling bugs on flowers and leaves or snatch a flying insect out of the air.
Black-chinned hummingbirds will also stalk spider webs and steal insects that have gotten trapped in them away from the spiders.
8. They Sometimes Raise Three Broods In A Year
Pairs of black-chinned hummingbirds don’t form lasting bonds. After they mate, the female is left with the parenting responsibilities while the male will go mate with more females.
The female will lay one to three eggs which will hatch in about 16 days. The hatchlings are ready to leave the nest when they are about 20 days old, leaving the mama bird free to breed again.
Most female black-chinned hummingbirds will raise two, sometimes three, broods per year.
9. Female Black-Chinned Hummingbirds Are Single Moms
Male black-chinned hummingbirds don’t stick around after mating to help with parenting duties.
It all falls to the females. The females select the nesting location, build the nest, incubate the eggs, and feed the nestlings all on their own.
When it comes to nest construction, the female black-chinned hummingbirds get some help from an unlikely source… spiders. The female will use spider webs to hold her next together and to secure it to a tree branch.
10. They Are Solitary Hummingbirds
While some hummingbird species are quite social, the black-chinned hummingbirds are loners.
They prefer to stay to themselves most of the time. They only come together to mate.
11. Black-Chinned Hummingbirds Flip Their Tails When They Feed
An unusual and distinguishing feature of the black-chinned hummingbird involves the movement of its tail when it feeds.
It hovers above a flower or a hummingbird feeder when it eats and flicks, flips, spreads, and puffs up its tail while it dines.
This behavior is unique to the black-chinned hummingbird. It is one of the ways that bird watchers and biologists can identify it in the wild.
12. Hybridization Occurs With The Black-Chinned Hummingbird
In areas where several species of hummingbirds are found, the black-chinned hummingbird might breed with another hummingbird species to create hybrids. The result is offspring with characteristics from both parents.
Most commonly, hybridization occurs with broad-tailed hummingbirds, Anna’s hummingbirds, and Costa’s hummingbirds. Although rare, the black-chinned hummingbirds have been observed hybridizing with other hummingbird species.