The violet-crowned hummingbird is unlike other hummingbirds often seen in the United States. With a glittering violet crown, a brilliant white underbelly, and a missing colorful throat patch, they are still a beautiful sight.
Female violet-crowned hummingbirds are the sole caregivers of their offspring. They often build their nests in large deciduous sycamore trees, which offer them protection and food.
Read on to learn more about these fascinating large-sized hummingbirds.
1. They Are The Only U.S. Hummingbirds Missing A Throat Patch
Violet-crowned hummingbirds are the only American-found hummingbird species that lack a colorful throat patch (gorget).
This beautiful bird is elegant. It has white underparts contrasted against an iridescent violet crown.
Back and tail feathers are brown, and the tail appears to have a notch. Their bills are long, straight, and orange with a black tip.
Males and females look alike. Juveniles have partially brown heads with hints of violet.
2. It’s Rarely Seen In The United States
This species (Amazilia violiceps) is commonly found in Mexico. However, there have been sightings of these beautiful birds in the warm southeastern United States.
They are relatively new north of the Mexican border, but their numbers seem to be increasing. Typically, most sightings of this bird have occurred in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.
Violet-crowned hummingbirds are permanent residents in most areas. However, they will fly to warmer areas during the winter season in the United States.
3. They Like Sycamore Trees & Canyons
Violet-crowned hummingbirds are often spotted in middle elevations in canyons. Often this is where there are sycamore trees.
They also frequent low land stream sides and groves of tall trees that include sycamore or cottonwood, with brushy understory.
If flowers are not available in ample supply, these birds will hover in shady trees around the middle of trunks to catch insects mid-air.
4. They Visit Hummingbird Feeders & Eat Insects
Like other hummingbirds, the violet-crowned species feeds on nectar and small insects. They can be seen visiting hummingbird feeders and flowering plants. They also drink from the flowers of sycamore trees.
They typically hover to drink nectar, extending their long tongues into the deep center of flowers. At hummingbird feeders, they may perch or hover.
Hummingbirds also eat small insects catching them on the wing or plucking them from foliage.
5. They Chase Away Smaller Hummingbirds From Nectar Sources
In times of nectar scarcity, larger hummingbirds chase away smaller ones.
Violet-crowned hummingbirds are larger ones at the top of the hummingbird size hierarchy. They are bigger than rufous, broad-billed, and Costa’s hummingbirds to name a few.
On average they are about 4 inches long, with a bill that adds about another ½-inch.
6. They Are Solitary Birds
Similar to other hummingbirds, such as rufous and Costa’s, the violet-crowned hummingbird is a solitary bird. They do not bond with a mate.
The male breeds with a female and then does not return to assist her in raising their offspring.
7. Females Are In Charge Of Nests, Eggs & Offspring
After breeding with a male, the female is on her own.
She builds a cup-shaped nest to hold 2 eggs in a deciduous tree or large shrub, typically 20 feet from the ground. It is built with grasses, plant fibers, and spider webs and lined with downy plant materials.
She camouflages the outer part of the nest with lichen and pieces of twigs.
Her eggs are white and she incubates them by herself for about 2 weeks.
Once the nestlings hatch, she regurgitates food, delivering it with her long beak into their mouths and stomachs.
The hatchlings leave the nest 3 to 4 weeks later.
8. They Make Squeaky Call Sounds
The violet-crowned hummingbird most commonly makes a dry, squeaky “chap” sound. However, they also produce a rapid repetition of hard “stik”, high-pitched “weep” or shrill “zeek” sounds.
This video demonstrates the calls of a violet-crowned hummingbird:
Violet-crowned hummingbirds are a larger species not commonly found in the United States. Typically they are only found in parts of Arizona and Mexico in canyons ample with sycamore trees.
If you get a glimpse of this bird’s dazzling violet crown, you will also notice its stark white neck and belly.
These birds are unique because they are missing a gorget. The lack of this colorful throat patch makes them, unlike the appearance of other American-found hummingbirds.
These facts and more make the violet-crowned hummingbird a delightful sight to see.