Black-Chinned Hummingbird
a Quick Profile

Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

Black-chinned hummingbirds are a slender 3-3/4 inch bird that is at home in a wide range of situations in the western part of the United States and the lower southwest portions of Canada.

From isolated desert canyons to mountain basins and suburbia, a plaintive "tchew" note announces the presence of this hummer.

The name of the species comes from the velvety black feathers that make up the gorget.

The males are more often recognized by the iridescent deep violet band below the chin.

Females resemble female ruby-throats, but have a longer bill and grayer underparts.

Male Black-chinned hummingbirds begin setting up shop in early March in southern parts of their range.

They look for large patches of wildflowers to provide fuel for their energetic displays and to fend off would be intruders.

Whenever a female Black-chinned hummer or intruding male enters his area, the territorial bird initiates a wide "U" shaped flight.

Interlopers usually flee at the onslaught, but the receptive female will perch and allow the male to move closer.

Black-chinned male

The pair will then do an intensive side-by-side shuttle flight.

For mating, the male follows the female away from his territory.

Female Black-chinned hummingbirds build their nest of plant down and spider webbing.

Typically, plant down woven with spider's silk makes the basic structure.

Decorating the exterior may include lichens, bud scales, bits of bark, and flowers.

Black-chinned hummers are not shy about living among humans and sometimes build in places that get considerable traffic.

Most Black-chinned hummers migrate South to Mexico long before the chill of autumn destroys the native flora.

In Mexico, they reside in dry scrubby habitats similar to their nesting haunts.

A few spend the non-breeding season in the southeastern states.

Similar species:

Males are unmistakable with a good view.

Females are similar to a number of other female hummingbirds, and are best told from the Calliope Hummingbird and species in the genus Selasphorus by their lack of rufous on the flanks and in the tail.

Anna's Hummingbirds are larger and have grayer chests, while Costa's Hummingbirds differ only in subtleties of facial pattern and tail pattern.

Females are not safely separable from female Ruby-throated hummingbirds, except in the hand.


Best told from all species except Ruby-throated hummingbird by call.

Migration Status: Neotropical migrant

Breeding Habitat: Woodland

Clutch Size: 2

Length of Incubation: 13-16 days

Days to Fledge: 21

Number of Broods: 2, occasionally 3





Like Ruby-throat, they will build the nest in several types of trees. The nest is on a slender downward hanging twig where leaves work as protection from the elements.

Sites are often over water, but isn't essential when choosing a site.

Range Map


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Feeding Hummingbirds

Nectar Plants for Hummers

See other hummingbird profiles

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