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Black-chinned Hummingbird: Identification and Overview

May 10, 2023

The Black-chinned Hummingbird is a remarkable and fascinating species that captures the hearts of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. With its incredible flying abilities, shimmering colors, and intriguing behavior, this small bird offers a unique and captivating glimpse into the world of hummingbirds. In this extensive educational blog, we will delve into the characteristics, behavior, habitat, and ecological importance of the Black-chinned Hummingbird, providing an in-depth and comprehensive exploration of this captivating species.

Size and Shape

The Black-chinned Hummingbird is a small bird, measuring approximately 3.25 inches in length, with a wingspan of around 4.25 inches. This species has a slender and elongated body shape, which is typical for hummingbirds. The wings are long and narrow, allowing for swift and agile flight, while the short tail is slightly forked.

The bill of the Black-chinned Hummingbird is relatively long, straight, and slender, making it well-adapted for feeding on nectar from tubular flowers. The bird's legs are short and relatively weak, as they are primarily used for perching rather than walking or hopping.

Color Pattern

Adult male Black-chinned Hummingbirds boast a striking color pattern, with a metallic green upper body and a contrasting black chin and throat. In the right lighting, the male's throat may display an iridescent purple band, adding an extra touch of vibrancy to its appearance. The underparts are predominantly grayish-white, and the tail feathers are dark with white tips.

Female Black-chinned Hummingbirds have a more subdued coloration, with a greenish upper body, grayish-white underparts, and a white eye-ring. Their tails are rounded, with white-tipped outer feathers. Juvenile birds resemble adult females but may have some buffy feather edges on their upper body.


Black-chinned Hummingbirds are known for their incredible aerial abilities. They are capable of hovering in place, flying forwards and backward, and even darting rapidly from side to side. These remarkable skills are made possible by their strong wing muscles and rapid wingbeats, which can reach up to 50 beats per second.

These hummingbirds are also territorial, with males defending feeding territories around rich nectar sources. During the breeding season, males perform impressive courtship displays, which involve diving in a U-shaped pattern while emitting high-pitched vocalizations. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are solitary birds, with pairs only coming together briefly for mating.


The Black-chinned Hummingbird can be found in a variety of habitats, ranging from desert scrublands to riparian woodlands, and from low elevations up to around 9,000 feet. They are primarily found in the southwestern United States, as well as in parts of Mexico. In the winter, they migrate to central Mexico and sometimes even as far south as Panama.

Their preferred habitats often include a mix of trees, shrubs, and open areas, providing both food sources and nesting sites. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are particularly drawn to areas with an abundance of flowering plants, as their diet primarily consists of nectar, along with some insects and spiders for protein.


  1. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are known to consume up to two times their body weight in nectar each day to fuel their high-energy lifestyles.
  2. The nest of a Black-chinned Hummingbird is a tiny, cup-shaped structure made of plant fibers, spiderwebs, and lichen. The female is responsible for building the nest and raising the young, while the male does not participate in these tasks.
  3. Female Black-chinned Hummingbirds lay two tiny white eggs, which she incubates for about 12 to 16 days before they hatch. The young birds fledge approximately 18 to 23 days after hatching.
  4. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are capable of entering a state called torpor, which is a temporary hibernation-like state where the bird's metabolic rate and body temperature drop significantly. This allows them to conserve energy during periods of cold temperatures or scarce food availability.
  5. The Black-chinned Hummingbird is often mistaken for the closely related Ruby-throated Hummingbird, especially when it comes to females and juveniles, as their color patterns are very similar.

Ecosystem Services

Black-chinned Hummingbirds play a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit, primarily through their role as pollinators. As they visit flowers to feed on nectar, they inadvertently transfer pollen from one flower to another, facilitating the reproduction of many plant species. This makes the Black-chinned Hummingbird an essential component in maintaining the health and diversity of plant communities within its range.

Additionally, these hummingbirds help control insect populations by consuming small insects and spiders as part of their diet. This can be especially beneficial in agricultural settings, where insect pests can cause significant damage to crops.


The Black-chinned Hummingbird is a captivating and ecologically important bird species that contributes significantly to the ecosystems it inhabits. From its remarkable aerial abilities and striking color patterns to its vital role as a pollinator, this small bird offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of hummingbirds. By understanding the characteristics, behavior, and habitat of the Black-chinned Hummingbird, we can better appreciate the complex relationships that exist within the natural world and work towards preserving these species and the environments they call home.